Scottish minister in town to strengthen business ties with Canada

Reception hosted at Earnscliffe, one-time home of Canada's most famous Scotsman, Sir John A. Macdonald

Along the bonny banks of the Ottawa River, government officials from both Scotland and Canada gathered Monday during our sesquicentennial anniversary to celebrate 150 years of friendship between our two close-knit countries.

The reception was held at the British high commissioner’s official residence, Earnscliffe, also known as the one-time home of Canada’s Glasgow-born first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Deputy British High Commissioner Thomas Barry formally welcomed guests and remind everyone of the “vibrant, deep and enduring” ties that Canada has with the United Kingdom, starting with our shared Queen.

150 Years of Scotland and Canada Friendship
Deputy British High Commissioner Thomas Barry welcomes guests to the 150 Years of Canada-Scotland Friendship reception held at Earnscliffe on Monday, October 16, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Scottish immigrants are credited with significantly contributing to the fabric of Canadian society and identity. More than five million people in the Great White North -- roughly the same population living in Scotland -- claim to be of Scottish heritage.

The reception featured Scotland’s economy secretary, Keith Brown, who is visiting several North American cities to showcase Scotland as one of the best places in the world to live, visit, study and do business.

Canada is one of Scotland’s top inward investors, with approximately 3,600 people in Scotland employed by Canadian-owned businesses. It also currently exports £470 million-worth of products to Canada.

Scotland excels in food and drink (such as whisky and craft beer), financial services and wealth management, oil and gas along with renewable energy research and development, tourism, and education (five Scottish universities are among the world’s top 200). It also has a talent for computer gaming; Grand Theft Auto was created in Dundee.

“There are areas where I think there is great potential for Canada and Scotland to work more closely together,” said Brown. “It’s been driven home to me today how comfortable both Scotland and the UK is with Canada. It is a comfortable relationship based on shared values.

“I think we have to make it a bit less comfortable by challenging each other to see what we can do to get more out of that relationship.”

Brown unveiled a gift, created by young apprentice stone masons, depicting the famous ship Hector that brought the first migration of Scottish settlers to Nova Scotia in 1773. It was received by Charlottetown MP Sean Casey, parliamentary secretary to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly. “I’m as Scottish as Paddy’s pig,” joked the politician, referring to his Irish heritage. However, Prince Edward Island was heavily influenced by Scottish Gaelic settlers and, today, almost 50 per cent of its islanders has Scottish roots.

150 Years of Scotland and Canada Friendship
From left, Keith Brown, economic secretary for Scotland, with George Brown (no relation), chair of the Scottish Society of Ottawa, and Charlottetown MP Sean Casey, parliamentary secretary for the Canadian Heritage Minister, at the 150 Years of Canada-Scotland Friendship reception, held at Earnscliffe, official residence of the British high commissioner, on Monday, October 16, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Also present from Prince Edward Island were Senators Mike Duffy and Diane Griffin. In the kilt-wearing crowd was Scottish-born Liberal MP Mike Levitt, from Toronto's York Centre riding.

150 Years of Scotland and Canada Friendship
Prince Edward Island Senators Mike Duffy and Diane Griffin attended a reception held Monday, October 16, 2017, at Earnscliffe to celebrate 150 Years of Canada-Scotland Friendship. Photo by Caroline Phillips
150 Years of Scotland and Canada Friendship
From left, Conservative MP David Tilson (Dufferin-Caledon) with Raymond McGovern, Americas president of Scottish Development International, Liberal MP Mike Levitt and Senator Mike Duffy at the 150 Years of Canada-Scotland Friendship reception, held at Earnscliffe on Monday, October 16, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Attendees also included members of the Scottish Society of Ottawa, including its chair, George Brown, and executive director, Andrew Caddell. Among the events the society organizes in order to promote awareness and appreciation of Scottish culture are its Great Canadian Kilt Skate and its Ottawa Hogmanay on New Year’s Eve.

The society is looking to grow the Hogmanay celebration into the second-largest in the world, after Edinburgh, of course.

150 Years of Scotland and Canada Friendship
Scottish Society of Ottawa board members Heather Theoret, Charlie Inglis, George Brown and volunteer executive director Andrew Caddell at Earnscliffe on Monday, October 16, 2017, for the 150 Years of Canada-Scotland Friendship reception. Photo by Caroline Phillips

caroline@obj.ca