Visit to the Home Hardware Stores Limited Annual Fall Market
St. Jacobs, Ontario, Monday, September 23, 2013
It is a pleasure to join you here to speak about a passion of mine: giving.
As you may know, I have made volunteerism and philanthropy one of the pillars of my mandate, and I hope to speak to many different sectors of Canadian society in the coming months and years to reinforce their importance.
The Canadian business community—Home Hardware included—are generous.
The benefits you provide to the community are significant. And when you add the individual contributions of employees who are encouraged to take time off for volunteering, we see how vital a role you can play in our giving society.
Here at Home Hardware, you have taken giving to heart. With your reach into communities across the country, you have an opportunity to give locally and have a national impact.
In supporting such charities as SickKids Foundation, Special Olympics Canada, United Way and Tree Canada, you are creating a better, stronger country.
People who believe in the power of community—people such as you—understand that, in a democracy, everyone has something to give.
And because of that, we all have a responsibility to give back and to help out. We have a duty to share some of our good fortune with others. It is both the right thing to do and the bright thing to do.
In other words, it is the smart and caring thing to do.
We know that our caring has an impact on people’s lives, but why do I call this the smart thing to do?
One bit of evidence that supports this theory comes from a recently released survey on global happiness sponsored by the United Nations. You may have heard about it: Canada placed 6th.
One of the survey’s most interesting findings was that six key factors account for fully three-quarters of the differences in happiness levels between nations.
Those factors include several we would typically expect to see: life expectancy, freedom, GDP per capita.
But there are also two key factors that relate directly to the level of “caring” in a country:
(1) the generosity of fellow citizens; and
(2) having someone to rely on in times of trouble.
Using these somewhat unorthodox measuring sticks, we see that part of Canada’s success is directly tied to how compassionate we are as people. As a caring nation, we rank highly, and that is partly thanks to corporate partners giving back to Canadians in need. In other words, “caring” is a “smart” way to do business.
As corporate leaders with representation in diverse communities, you contribute to our well-being in so many ways.
Caring improves our nation—by increasing our happiness—and when our nation succeeds, all of us profit, including businesses such as yours. Our success is your success.
And when we work together, that is when we achieve the most.
Let me end with one of my favourite stories of a community coming together to use its strengths and generosity to overcome adversity.
The setting of this story, in the Waterloo area, is apropos since Home Hardware had its beginnings in that region. Before we moved to Ottawa, my wife, Sharon, and I lived on a farm.
One day, our neighbour, Edgar—a kind and generous member of the local Mennonite community—was over at our house while Sharon was going over the budget for our farm.
At one point, she asked Edgar, “How much would it cost to replace the barn?” Edgar replied, “Why do you need to know?” To this, Sharon explained that she was trying to reduce our farm’s operating costs, and so was going over the insurance portfolio.
For this, she needed to put a price on the barn in the event that it burned down. Edgar replied that there was no need to put a price on the barn, because if it burns down, the neighbours and community members would volunteer their time and recycled lumber to come together to replace it, free of charge. He then hesitated for a moment, before adding, “Put $2,000 down because we’ll need new shingles.”
Now, I’m aware that in one sense, this story is extraordinary. But on the other hand, everywhere I go in this country, I see evidence of this impulse to help others, and how it is both generous and practical. It has led me to see “barn-raising” as a metaphor for how we can build a smarter, more caring Canada.
Home Hardware has raised many barns across this country—metaphorically speaking in most cases, although perhaps not all, given your business! You are helping people in so many ways, and for this, you have my gratitude.
I hope that you will take this opportunity to discuss your giving strategy, to find ways to do even more with the resources available to you, and to gain a better understanding of what you do for the community.
The future looks bright when smart and caring Canadians work together to build the country to which we aspire.
Thank you for all that you do for Canada and for giving.