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Cement Association of Canada President and CEO Michael McSweeney introduces AMO Keynote speaker, Commander Chris Hadfield





Thank you, Russ. Our wonderful host, and my municipal Alma Mater - the City of Ottawa, Mayors, Councilors, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

What a tremendous honour for me, and for all of us, to be here today in the presence of a true Canadian hero and one born in Ontario I might add! The first Canadian to walk in space. The first Canadian to command the International Space Station and, as far as we know, the first extraterrestrial recording artist.

I can think of no other individual who better embodies the theme of this year's AMO conference ? "Inspiring and Aspiring". Inspired by the 1969 Apollo moon landing, Commander Hadfield has himself become an inspiration to millions around the world and has opened a window into what we can achieve as individuals and as a civilization if only we aspire to great things.

This moment in history is also ripe for AMO’s "Inspire and Aspire" message. We are on the cusp of huge social, economic and environmental changes. Many of these changes are very exciting. Some, like the potential ravages of climate change, on which Commander Hadfield brought us earthlings indelible images from his unique vantage point, are downright scary. But whatever your view of our changing world, the future demands big things from us. As representatives and leaders of the people of Ontario, you are in a privileged position to contribute solutions to these problems.

We are entering what is likely to be a period of unprecedented investment in repairing, upgrading and expanding our basic infrastructure. It may sound mundane, but nothing could be more important. Protecting and enhancing the water, electricity, transportation, and buildings infrastructure that underpins our health, safety and prosperity ? our quality of life ? will be among your legacies.

You will be building the infrastructure for the next several generations ? and your success, our success, will need deep inspiration and bold aspiration.

Just as the Great Fire of London in 1666 spurred the development of the first modern building codes, climate change must be at the heart of how we build infrastructure today. And by this I mean that infrastructure investments today must embody both the need to reduce CO2 and the need to adapt to the changes in weather that have already arrived and, we know, will get worse.

From Hurricane Sandy to the devastating floods in Calgary, northern Ontario and Toronto, it's increasingly hard to deny that we are living in a changing world. Now more than ever, you, as our political leaders, must lead a transition to protect us from these changes and secure our continued prosperity.

Look at the bold initiatives that New York City is undertaking. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg has announced a $20 billion plan to keep New York City thriving in a world of rising sea levels and wild weather and to ensure his constituents have safe homes, drinking water and infrastructure. Building for climate resilience is now mandatory.

The cement and concrete industry is embracing this collective challenge too. From massive investments in technologies to reduce our CO2 emissions to innovating solutions to building safe, strong and environmentally friendly and energy efficient infrastructure, we want to be a proactive partner with municipalities in building our sustainable and resilient future.

Together, we can draw inspiration from all that we have accomplished to date, from the tremendous leaders and explorers of history and those, like Commander Hadfield, who grace us today, and aspire not just to persevere, but to thrive in the face of adversity and opportunity.

Commander Hadfield brought the wonder of science into our living rooms and invited us to participate in his deep and playful fascination with the universe. Proving he doesn't let any technological advance escape his understanding, Commander Hadfield marshalled the power of social media to engage millions in marvelling at the scale of human achievement while filling us with humility at the vastness of all we have yet to learn. Whether you are eight or eighty, Commander Hadfield reached out to us in a way that inspired us to care more for our environment and the place we call home.

It is a distinct honor to introduce your keynote speaker for today. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Commander Chris Hadfield.

Thank you.



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