Reception held at the Rivera Court of the Detroit Institute of Arts
Detroit, Michigan, Wednesday, April 29, 2015
What a pleasure it is to be with all of you at the wonderful Detroit Institute of Arts. Thank you all for being here.
These murals by Diego Rivera are so impressive. They truly capture the energy and dynamism of Detroit, the state of Michigan, and indeed of this great country.
I grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, just across the river from Soo, Michigan, so I consider myself a bit of a local boy.
My mother was from Michigan, and like so many Canadians, I’m well aware of Detroit’s significance as a city and as a symbol.
I think Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation summed it up nicely when he recently said:
“Detroit is a metaphor for America, for America’s challenges and America’s opportunities. It is a hothouse for new innovation, for ingenuity and risk taking.”
That is truly said, and it’s certainly true of what has been achieved in preserving this art collection, which is so important to the city, the state and the whole country.
The DIA is a key part of your culture, and it contains some of the greatest examples of human creativity in the world.
I know what transpired here to save this very valuable collection from being sold off during the city’s bankruptcy case. How this art collection was the key to striking “the grand bargain” that allowed Detroit to move forward in such difficult times.
The art collection was the key financial asset, but it was the desire of so many great people—of so many of you—to work together for the public good that truly lies behind this city’s rebirth.
Your dedication and your generosity are truly remarkable.
Detroit is on the upswing, and in many ways, its rebirth started right here. Many of you were key players in this story, and I want to commend you on your success.
When I think of that and look at these murals, I’m reminded of what makes America so great, and such a valued friend and partner of Canada.
The same goes for the state of Michigan and Canada. The Windsor-Detroit corridor is the most important international land crossing in North America, handling an estimated 30 per cent of Canada-U.S. trade.
About 2.4 million trucks crossed the border in 2013, carrying more than $100 billion in trade. The numbers are impressive, and I am pleased to note continued progress on the New International Trade Crossing.
So many Canadians cross the border to live, study, work and play here. Between Detroit and Windsor, many thousands every day.
And so many Americans come to Canada for the same reasons.
Without a doubt, the friendship that exists between our two nations is among the most productive and mutually beneficial in the world.
I know much hard work remains to be done, but Canada rejoices when its friends and neighbours succeed, as you have done here.
Because of people like you, a bright future’s in store for Detroit and for America—I’m sure of it.
Congratulations on all you have achieved. I wish you the very best.