Two Wheels to National Fitness - Remarks Today as M.C. of Bike Day on Parliament Hill

  • By John Weston
  • 01 Jun, 2017
Thank you for coming.  I’m honored to be your Master of Ceremonies for Bike Day on Parliament Hill today.Ottawa’s renowned hotel, the Chateau Laurier, was built in 1908.  The architects from the Montreal Firm Ross & McFarlane designed it to reflect the grandeur of our Parliament Buildings.  Their work continues to inspire our nation, just as it inspired the design of many other buildings in the city.In this 150th anniversary of Canada’s founding, we’re reminded that we’re building a nation. 
Thank you for coming.  I’m honored to be your Master of Ceremonies for Bike Day on Parliament Hill today.
Ottawa’s renowned hotel, the Chateau Laurier, was built in 1908.  The architects from the Montreal Firm Ross & McFarlane designed it to reflect the grandeur of our Parliament Buildings.  Their work continues to inspire our nation, just as it inspired the design of many other buildings in the city.
In this 150th anniversary of Canada’s founding, we’re reminded that we’re building a nation.  Building around certain values.  One of those values is fitness.
Fitness is physical but it’s more.  People who care about physical fitness understand the relationship of a healthy body to a healthy soul, a healthy environment, and a healthy community.
I’m John Weston, and I have the honor to serve as President of the National Health & Fitness Foundation.  My Foundation colleagues and I want to make Canada the “Fittest Nation on Earth”.  They are Senator Nancy Greene Raine, Canada’s top female athlete of the 20th century, Pierre Lafontaine, head of Cycling Canada, Phil Marsh, Senior Manager of the Running Room, and Marilyn McIvor, a respected public health nurse.  Our Foundation works year round to promote participation in physical activity in Canada.  Our signature event is National Health & Fitness Day, the first Saturday in June, when cities across Canada, including Ottawa, put special emphasis on promoting physical activity.  Ottawa NHFD events include a run at 7am and Boot Camp on the Hill at 10am, right here.
NHFD began because most Canadians don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity every week – 2 hours. Canada spends about $7 B per year on preventable illnesses. Canada is experiencing an emerging obesity epidemic.
On the bright side, over 270 cities and towns across Canada have proclaimed National Health & Fitness Day which was designed to raise awareness on the health issue.  We all know that cycling is an excellent way to increase your fitness level!
Along with many of you here, I created Bike Day on the Hill in 2012, after a conversation with the head of the Ottawa Bicycle Club, Rob McClure.  When I began Bike Day on the Hill, I was the MP for West Vancouver. Standing here in front of Parliament, it’s important to say that there IS life beyond politics.  On the first ever Bike Day, about 30 people turned up.  A thunder storm cut our ride short.  And the bells rang to force MPs to vote.  Humble beginnings!
Our idea was to change perceptions of our leaders about cycling, to put cycling on the national agenda, to help political and other decision-makers focus on the dividends of a bike-friendly community, for the Environment, for the Economy, and of course, for Health.   We haven’t arrived yet but I thank the many people who took this dream and made it much bigger than we ever envisioned.  The sometimes amusing story of Bike Day’s evolution is in my book, published only last week.  It’s called On! Achieving Excellence in Leadership, available at Amazon and through my website: johnweston.ca.  I hope you like it because many of you here are in it!
We learned quickly that we could succeed only with great partnerships.  Those are represented here today.  We thank those of our partners who are here to add their words.

John Weston Blog

By John Weston 01 Nov, 2017
I am delighted that Powell River and the Tla’amin Nation have received public recognition of their healthy relationship (“BC Treaty Commission praises Tla’amin Nation relations”, Chris Bolster, Sept 27, 2017; http://www.prpeak.com/news/bc-treaty-commission-praises-tla-amin-nation-relations-1.23025932) . The story rightly reflects the hard work and goodwill of specific individuals, such as Chief Clint Williams, Mayor Dave Formosa, and former Mayor Stewart Alsgard. As former MP for Powell River, I observed firsthand the healthy relationship between Chief, Mayor, and Regional District and worked closely with them. Among other things, we together precipitated unprecedented amounts of Federal government cooperation and investment in Powell River.

However, it’s a pity that in Indigenous Affairs, things tend to be painted in black-and-white tones. Nuances and middle ground become the victim of polarized thinking. Leaders and media find themselves speaking half-truths that undermine good, long-term results.

So it was in Chief Williams’ stating that, as former MP, I “was blocking the First Nation’s attempts at communicating with the Federal Government”. That is just wrong. In fact, Chief Williams initially brought me into the discussion when a fisheries issue was impeding progress on the Treaty negotiation. As a member of the Fisheries Committee and a consistent supporter of treaty-making in general, I sought and got a resolution to that issue that allowed progress on the Tla’amin Treaty.

In its March 31, 2014 issue, the Powell River Peak covered the townhall discussion in Powell River, when residents and I discussed my concern, that the Treaty states Tla’amin Law will in some situations prevail over Canadian law (“Weston speaks against the treaty,” Dean Unger, http://www.prpeak.com/news/weston-speaks-against-treaty-1.2209724) . Throughout my career as a lawyer in Indigenous Affairs and as a politician, I have consistently stood up for equality and human rights. We should never allow the law of any community, religious group, or Aboriginal group to prevail over Canadian law. The unity of our country, its peace, order, and good government, and the equal rights of Canadians depend on our being governed by one law, equal for all, regardless of race, colour, or creed. While our Constitution, the Indian Act, and court decisions have led us in other directions, we as Canadians need vigorously to pursue equality whenever we get the chance.

As MP and as Member of the Minister’s Caucus Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, I supported the Treaty, but not the “inequality” provision. I did express these views to the Prime Minister and the Minister. As elaborated in my recent book (On! Achieving Excellence in Leadership; johnweston.ca) Equality is at the centre of real, long-term reconciliation between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people. For the long-term peace, order, and good government of our country, and for the benefit of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people, we Canadians ought at every turn to promote Equality in treaties, words, and deeds.

The piece ran as a letter to the editor in the Powell River Peak's Oct 4, 2017 edition.
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Thank you for coming.  I’m honored to be your Master of Ceremonies for Bike Day on Parliament Hill today.Ottawa’s renowned hotel, the Chateau Laurier, was built in 1908.  The architects from the Montreal Firm Ross & McFarlane designed it to reflect the grandeur of our Parliament Buildings.  Their work continues to inspire our nation, just as it inspired the design of many other buildings in the city.In this 150th anniversary of Canada’s founding, we’re reminded that we’re building a nation. 
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