Last evening there was a banquet in Chinatown. It had several purposes. It was a birthday celebration for the 60th Anniversary of the current ruling regime in China, and the Chinese ambassador was present. It was a fundraiser for the new archway that will grace Somerset St at Cambridge later this year, and for that welcoming beacon and sign of the Chinese-Asian presence in the Dalhousie neighborhood of Ottawa, significant funds were raised. The final arch design was revealled: it is a royal arch, because Ottawa is a capital city, as is Beijing, which is contributing to the archway here. It will be the only royal arch in a Canadian Chinatown (hello Toronto, Vancouver …). It also launched the weekend Festival Asia. There was drumming and three ornate dragons danced through the crowded tables of attendees.
Of course there were politicans present: John Baird, Jim Watson, Larry OBrien, Diane Holmes, and (ex-politican) Richard Patton, all seeming glad to be in each other’s presence. Their mutual delight radiated throughout the room. With politicians, there are speeches.
Jim Watson told of his mayoral visit to Beijing. John Baird related his visit to a number of Chinese cities this summer past, particularly focussing on the number of transit projects he saw underway. Light rail, heavy rail, urban and interurban, he recited an impressive list of transit projects, their lengths, and time frames for construction, all from memory. He then commented that it made an interesting contrast to all the fuss about Ottawa’s short tunnel and initial few kilometers of rail.
There was no way it could be interpreted as negative about the Ottawa project’s funding or feasibility. It sure did not sound like he was about to pull the plug.