Thanks to all of you who attended our AGM, and a special thank you to a dedicated Board of Directors for their tireless efforts over the past year. Without these efforts, we would not have such a vibrant Chamber.
The 2015-2016 year has once again been an active one for the Belgian community in the GTA. In the past year, Canada as a whole, and Toronto in particular, has received a lot of attention from the highest levels in Belgium. This began in October with a Trade Mission to Western Canada led by HRH Princess Astrid. Following this, Jean-Claude Marcourt, Vice-Minister-President and Minister of Economics and Foreign Affairs of Wallonia, led a delegation to Toronto which participated in our “Business with Belgium” Trade & Investment Seminar prior to engaging in B2B meetings with local counterparts. More recently, during last month’s “Belgian Days”, we were honoured by the presence of Pieter de Crem, Belgium’s Federal State Secretary for Foreign Trade. We continue to be one of the most active chambers within the European community, and also as the resource of choice on CETA’s potential impact on trade between Belgium and Canada.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels on March 22nd, the BCBC was able to rally support in the GTA, most notably that of Mayor John Tory. We have worked very closely with Brussels Airlines and the Brussels Airport Company to re-enhance the image of Brussels in the aftermath of these attacks, which culminated in a reception with the CEO’s of these two organizations, Bernard Gustin and Arnaud Feist. This was their first engagement abroad following March 22nd, and they thanked us for our efforts on behalf of Belgium.
As many of you will recall, December 2014 saw the closure of the Belgian Consulate in Toronto, and the departure of Consul Johan Casaer, who had been a valued partner of the BCBC since his arrival in 2011. Throughout 2015, the BCBC strived to maintain a strong Belgian presence in the economic and media capital of Canada, and I believe we can safely lay claim to having been successful in doing so. We’re very pleased that this past December, our fellow director, Don Johnston, was appointed the Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of Belgium in Toronto. Congratulations Don!
A chamber such as ours cannot exist without the support of sponsors, and so I would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors who are invaluable to our efforts. In particular, I would like to thank KPMG, who have provided us with this evening’s wonderful venue. Finally, I would like to thank you all for coming and for your active participation in our chamber.