As 2020 comes to a close and we begin a holiday season like no other, I would like to thank you for being part of the Ireland Canada Centre for Commerce in Calgary community.
So much in our daily lives has changed over the past year, and no one has come through the past 10 months without having been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And yet, despite global uncertainty, anxiety and upheaval, we have seen generosity, kindness and cooperation. Communities and businesses have come together in finding new ways to support one another, and worldwide collaboration has resulted in COVID vaccines that bring hope for the New Year.
The ICCC Board had an ambitious year planned, including welcoming a Trade Mission from Ireland with the ICBA. As with everyone, things changed and we brought two engaging, online events to our Members and Guests.
Todd Hirsch, Chief Economist at ATB Financial
We were delighted to bring an online event to Members and guests featuring Todd Hirsch, the Chief Economist at ATB Financial. Todd and Laureen discussed the results of a survey with Members and what the future looked like following COVID. It was a very interesting discussion, filled with insights. As always, Todd’s approach is to look for the positive in uncertain times.
His Excellency, Eamonn McKee, Ambassador of Ireland
In the Fall, we had the privilege of welcoming Ireland’s new Ambassador to Canada.
Dr. Eamonn C. McKee is an Irish diplomat recently appointed as Ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and The Bahamas. He has served a number of times in the Anglo-Irish Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs working on the Northern Ireland Peace Process. He served at the Embassy in Washington and at the Consulate General, New York. He is formerly Ambassador to Korea and to Israel.
The ICCC had the opportunity to sit down for a virtual conversation with Ambassador McKee. If you missed this engaging discussion, you can CLICK HERE to listen to the full interview.
2020 looked different than anyone could have predicted. As we reach the close of this year, I hope you will join me in gratitude for all the good that came to you over past months. Let us look forward to 2021 and the hope and new opportunities it will bring to each of us.
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and all the very best in 2021.
End of Year Message from Ambassador McKee
2020 has been a year of dramatic change and unprecedented challenges. In many ways, it has been a year like no other. As Covid-19 hit in March, we assumed the challenge would be soon over. We came to realise that this was not to be. We witnessed loved ones fall to the virus, others suffer long-term effects. We feared that perhaps our lives and way of life would be changed, perhaps for a very long time.
Yet this month, through an unprecedented effort, three vaccines have been produced and vaccinations have begun. We owe that to an unprecedented effort led by experts. That effort spanned the globe and was based on collaboration and information sharing, with funding from multiple sources. Now, for all the right reasons, 2021 looks to be a very different year than 2020.
There is exciting work in the year ahead for the Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce in Calgary and the Embassy. I am very much looking forward to seizing this opportunity to foster and deepen connections with Alberta.
The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has opened up a new era for Canadian global trade. CETA does more than remove 98% of tariffs. It provides greater IP protections to innovators and artists, aligns regulations and standards, enhances workers’ rights and environmental protections, allows unprecedented labour mobility, and opens up procurement processes across all levels of government. CETA is another way to spell opportunity!
Trade and investment flows are already showing a boost. More Canadian goods were shipped to Ireland and vice-versa. In both Canada and Ireland, strong sectors like pharma, Medtech, life sciences, digital services, ICT, and financial services showed their worth in responding to Covid and their potential for recovery and the future.
The Covid-19 crisis has taught us to secure our markets and our critical supply lines by diversification. That is why Ireland should loom large in the thinking of Canadian companies. Post Brexit, Ireland is the perfect platform to enter the EU Single Market, one of the largest, most valuable and most integrated markets in the world.
The Government of Alberta has highlighted clean-tech, ICT, life sciences, and arts and culture as opportunities for growth in the province’s relationship with Ireland. Clean-tech, for example, has been highlighted as an R&D priority, and both countries have similar promise when it comes to renewable energy. But since you never know when an opportunity will become a business, the key is to network and share information.
That is why ICCCCAL is for us such a valued partner. You play a vital role in connecting Canadian businesses with the Irish private sector and fostering relationships with Irish government stakeholders. You can count on the assistance of the Embassy and the state agencies of Enterprise Ireland and the IDA in fostering these connections, supporting our partners and clients and driving deeper economic relations.
I want to pay tribute to the exceptional contribution of Laureen Regan, our Honorary Vice Consul for Trade in Calgary. Laureen has been a passionate advocate for trade relations with Western Canada and for the Irish connection.
I and Team Ireland are looking forward to working with Laureen and indeed all of you in meeting the challenges and exploring the great opportunities of 2021.
Thank you for all of your volunteer efforts!
Wishing you and yours a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Dr. Eamonn McKee
Ambassador of Ireland to Canada
A Message from Minister of State Colm Brophy T.D.
I’m glad to share some information about the To Be Irish @ Christmas initiative which is taking place from 21-31 December.
This initiative will connect the Global Irish and Ireland this festive season, especially those abroad. The website, www.tobeirish.ie and the Twitter account @ToBeIrish are already live and there you will find lots of events to join in, such as an online panto, concerts, and much more. Many Irish who live abroad, such as Emma Donoghue, Graham Norton, Gabriel Byrne and Maeve Higgins, will be taking part in this very exciting programme.
We would really like to hear from you. Get involved and share what makes an Irish Christmas special to you. You can upload stories, videos, recipes, memories, your favourite Christmas jumper or the best spot for a Christmas Day walk, and more. I also want to encourage you to support local Irish businesses, so many of which have had to improvise and get creative to stay open. The To Be Irish website already lists many of them, and more are registering every day. If you would like your business to be featured, click here to register for free.
The youngest of the Global Irish can now even send their letters to Santa online, and the Irish Embassy in Finland has been given the important job of officially delivering them to Santa’s village. As you can see in this video, Ambassador Ruth Parkin has talked to Santa to make sure he knows the letters from the children of Ireland are coming his way.