Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, friends. Welcome to our 2009 Innovation Awards, and thank you Illsa, for hosting us once again at MaRS this evening. Thanks to all who helped choose our award winners, and a special thanks to our distinguished award presenters: Arlene Dickinson, Mike Lazaridis, and Dr. John Evans.

It's great to be here tonight and I feel very fortunate. Here I am, surrounded by our brightest and most original thinkers, in this, the hub of ingenuity and innovation, we call MaRS, where brilliant minds meet to ponder the profound mysteries of science.

So, it is with great humility that I seek an answer to the burning question that weighs heavily on the minds of Ontarians at this particular time of the year, what happened to the Leafs and the Sens, and what can science do to help?

Thank you all for coming tonight, and for supporting our award winners. Tonight is a celebration of innovation and creativity, and what we can do when we put our minds to it.

Thanks to all the companies that have inventions and products on display here tonight. You're doing great work, and I especially want to welcome the students who are here. It is has been very exciting for me to take a look at your inventions. I'm not sure if you've had an opportunity to check out those solar racing cars. Very cool stuff, and what our (inaudible) and students are doing with gesture technology, is nothing short of fantastic. If you guys could come up with a transporter that can get me and John out of question period and media scrums, we'd be most appreciative.

I'd also like to congratulate Carlie Scalesse, who won two prizes at the International Science and Engineering Fair last year, when she was a student at her own London Central Secondary School. Congratulations to you, Carlie, and to the students from Sheridan, Waterloo and U of T, and the high school students I met as well a moment ago. Thank you all for your hard work, and now to all of our researchers and innovators, regardless of your age or experience: keep doing, what you're doing. Keep being dogged, determined, driven and above all, restless.

Thomas Edison may have put it best when he said, "Restlessness is discontent, and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a a thoroughly satisfied man, and I'll show you a failure." Maybe that's a little harsh, but the point, I believe, is well taken. You and I must never accept the status quo, even one of our own making, as the end of progress. Progress never ends, and besides, the world hungers for it.

We all want a better world for ourselves and our children. We want a world without war, without pain, without poverty, without hunger, without injustice, without climate change. We want a world in balance. We want a world built on peaceful, sustainable prosperity, a world where all of us, everywhere, have all we need to lead full lives, rich in opportunity and freedom.

If we can imagine that world, then we can make it a reality. Getting there means staying restless. You may have heard of Camille Jenatzy. This was one, restless guy. He was a Belgian inventor who designed a racing car that he called, "La Jamais Contente (Born English, Never satisfied)." Jenatzy believed that he could set a world record for land speed in his car, and he did. He was the first person to break the 100km/hour speed barrier. What is truly remarkable, is that he set that record 110 years ago, in an electric car. Not bad. Not bad at all.

It's that same, restless drive to innovate that has given us the solar racing cars we see on display here, and all the other interesting items. Our award winners tonight are blessed with that restlessness that characterizes all our great innovators. They keep pushing out the envelope of understanding. They are each, in their own way, helping to lend shape to a better world.

So, I say to our award winners, thank you so much for your dedication to your work and to making our lives richer, and thanks as well to your families and friends, who have supported you, encouraged you, sustained you and loved you, as you pursued your goals.

You're making Ontario stronger. You're helping Ontario become a hot bed of innovation, and that's a good thing, because in these challenging times, our ability to generate jobs and investment depends greatly on creating economic value through innovation. That's why our government has a $3.2 billion plan to support our innovation agenda. It's why we recently launched our $250 million Emerging Technologies Fund, to drive the development of new, clean and green technologies.

I wanna thank my Minister for starting that applause, and it's why, in the same name, we are moving ahead with our Green Energy Act, to launch an explosion of investment and new made-in Ontario technologies, harnessing energy from the sun and the wind, and it's why we're cutting business taxes and moving to a single sales tax, to level the playing field for Ontario businesses, so they can compete with the 130 other countries that are already there.

Lower business costs means more money to invest in research and development, which means, more jobs on the way for our families, but it's not just about making it easier for innovation investments to take hold, it's also about always finding ways to nurture our talent, and speaking of talent - I'm sure you heard this story - just last week, Eric Yam, a grade 12 student at Northern Secondary School, won the grand prize in the NASA Space Settlement Competition for his design of an orbiting space colony. He's the only Canadian to win in the contest's 16 year history.

You know one of the reasons why Eric won? Because he didn't give up. He entered the contest before. He did not win, but he kept honing his idea, and persevered to the end, and now, he will be presenting his ideas to the world's stop space experts at a conference in Florida, later this month. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Lucky for us, here in Ontario, we've got a lot of talent in the pipe line, and we'll keep finding ways to nurture it, so that we'll have more innovation successes, just like the ones we are celebrating tonight. You know, one of the great things about talent is that, it attracts more talent, and talented, created people are drawn to places where innovation is nurtured and celebrated, and global companies target those same places to make their investments in research, development, and high end manufacturing. This is what we want and what we need for Ontario.

I think you and I both know and understand, the future belongs to the places that can harness the creativity, skills, knowledge and drive of their people. Those are the places that will compete, win and thrive in a new, more sustainable, global economy. Which means, that in Ontario, we've got to be first and we've got to be fast. First to develop, and fast to market.

Tonight's awards showcase our innovation and celebrate our researchers for the world to see, and I know that you are going to inspire others who may be contemplating new ideas of their own. With human creativity, anything is possible. It's about using our natural strengths and capitalizing on them.


We've got a lot going for us in Ontario: a strong, creative environment, a diverse society that connects us to every culture and every economy, a highly skilled workforce, world-class institutions of higher learning, and an internationally recognized research community. Together, through innovation, let's seize the global market opportunities that will create the type of jobs in the kind of world and province we'd be proud to leave to our children.

Again, to all our innovators, young and old alike, thank you for your restless pursuit of better ideas, for a better world. In the words of that great, American biologist, E.O Wilson, "You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you, and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave always, honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist. The world needs everything you can give."

On behalf of all of us here, congratulations to all our winners. We are all, very proud of you. Thank you.

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