2012 Annual AMO Conference. Ottawa Westin Hotel, Ottawa, Ontario.
(Check Against Delivery)

Gary, would you remain on stage.

Good morning everyone and welcome to the last day of the 113th annual meeting of AMO.

In keeping with my vertical projection, my remarks will be short!

Mr. President, thank you for the kind introduction.

Your work over the past year has been of great benefit to us all – and we, as an organization are eternally grateful.

Gary has joined a long line of AMO Presidents who have set the bar high.

And yet Gary stands out. AMO President, and Mayor of Tecumseh, weren’t the only things on his plate this year.

As some of you may know from recent media reports in the Windsor area, Gary was treated successfully for colon cancer earlier this year.

He didn’t say a word about it at the time, and thankfully, you would not know it by looking at him today.

Saying that I feel an obligation to work as hard as you is now an understatement.

Gary… on behalf of the whole association… please accept our thanks for all your hard work… and for your unshakable commitment to the members over the past year.

As you should know, Gary, as Immediate Past President, has offered to help me during my term – as have his predecessors – Peter Hume… Doug Reycraft… and Roger Anderson.
Gentleman, my thanks.

Three of our most recent Presidents continue to serve on AMO’s Board, alongside several other past presidents.

I think it says a lot about AMO that we are served by such depth of experience with many returning Board members who have years of experience.

When I joined the Board in 2006, I did so in part because I knew that I would be working shoulder to shoulder with people that I could learn from.

Today I’m humbled to lead AMO’s Board.

I declared my interest to be your President several months ago.

Then I took my message to the road… meeting with many of you… and with representatives of the other affiliate organizations and partners that AMO works with.

The opportunity, and the obligation to travel right across Ontario, also excites me.

It’s one thing to hear what your concerns are, but it’s better to see why they exist… what you hope to achieve… and what AMO can do to assist you in achieving that hope.

As this conference has demonstrated, AMO is doing quite a lot.

The amount of work that goes into this Conference alone is remarkable.

The other day, Gary joked that AMO’s staff does a great job of making the President look good.

I’ll go further and acknowledge that AMO’s staff is making all of us look good.

We have a lot of smart, dedicated people, both young and mature, in our corner. And my desire is to keep a good thing going.

This conference… their policy work… the bulk purchasing and other services that they provide… and the hours they put in to provide a smart, strong municipal voice… all combine to create countless opportunities for us.

It is not often that we get to show our appreciation. This morning we can.

So to all of you, our AMO staff – a heartfelt thank-you.

Tomorrow, our AMO staff will likely take it easy – unloading a truck or two, or three. And who knows, Friday may be a somewhat quieter day at the office.

But come Monday morning, they will be right back at it – and so will we.

We have spent several solid days exploring challenges, meeting with colleagues and considering varied options.

We all have a better sense of what’s possible, or the very least, what’s worth trying.

Your board members started their meetings on Saturday, as did many of the caucuses.

A lot of marching orders have been written.

I’d like to think that we’ve already managed to change a few things for the better.

However, the difficult fiscal environment we are all operating in remains the same.

Thanks to the exchanges we have had at this conference – and through processes such our Memorandum of Understanding meetings with the Province – we have a better understanding of our respective challenges.

It should be clear to all of us that we cannot let-up… or take our gains for granted.

We have to be firm, yet careful.

We can afford to be respectful… provided that we continue to be afforded due respect.

But we also can’t pause, we must move beyond discussions in a forward manner, minority government or not.

Ontario can and must continue to move forward.

The hundreds of communities that we serve are counting on it.

For our part, AMO has been very clear about what we need.

Last year, we clearly and concisely enunciated 12 asks.

They received broad support then, from all parties… and that support has only grown.

There isn’t any good reason to pause. There are only good reasons to proceed.

We have one message, and it’s directed at the whole of the Legislature.

Find common ground where possible, so that you can move forward on our priorities.

We need you to turn positive intentions, into positive actions, which become positive results.

AMO believes that municipalities can help the Ontario government find ways to deliver programs and services at lower cost.

Municipalities know how to stretch their limited tax dollars.

I’m also sure that many of you have thought the words, ‘wouldn’t it be smarter is they did it this way?’

On behalf of AMO, coincidentally, I am pleased to announce our “There’s got to be a better way campaign.”

I encourage, in fact I insist that you submit any practical suggestions that would reduce costs, improve services or do both.

We thought of three of them at our Board meeting on Saturday alone.

The time has never ben better to offer good ideas that AMO can take forward to the Ontario Government.

Information about the ideas campaign is provided on AMO’s website and it will be featured in this week’s edition of the AMO Watch File.

Ideas can be submitted in minutes.

This is just one example of the many ways that AMO is working to improve public policy, programs and services.

A year from now, Ottawa will welcome us again, and we will return to this fantastic new facility.

I believe that I will be able to open the conference by highlighting improvements that we have all contributed to.

We know that cooperation is possible – and I hope that Ontario’s Legislature will follow our lead.

AMO’s Board is diverse – north, south, east and west, small and big, urban and rural, yet we function very well, and we work to achieve broad consensus. It is all about shared interests and fair solutions that work locally.

I want to thank my colleagues for that.

I also want to welcome some of our newly elected members to the Board, along with their energy and perspectives.

I’m particularly looking forward to working closely with the City of London’s Grant Hopcroft - our new Secretary-Treasurer. He knew he would be stuck with me and yet he stepped forward anyway.

Thanks Grant.

To those who are completing service on the Board… thank you for volunteering your valuable time and experience. We really, really do appreciate it.

And to those who sought election, I want to say thank you for putting your name forward – and I especially thank you for not running for President.

Finally, I owe a big thank-you to my Mayor and Council colleagues in the City of Hamilton.

They have backed me 100%. They endorsed my decision to pursue this responsibility and I know that I will be able to count on their support and assistance in the months ahead.

Ladies and gentleman… colleagues all... I’m honoured to serve as your President

Now… we are just getting started on a fantastic morning.

Over the past few years, it is clear that AMO has put a lot of effort into making the last morning of the conference informative, interesting and compelling.

It is my pleasure to introduce a former Mayor of Ottawa, and a friend to Ontario’s municipalities, Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation.