President Matthew Cotter
AGM – 13th October 2016 (Year Ending – 31 December 2015)
I am pleased to report that the 12 month period ending 31 December 2015 continued the positive momentum for the ICCCTO. During this period we remained true to our mandate by focusing on providing a forum for our members to network and promote their business and professional interests while also supporting the development of enhanced trade links between Ireland and Canada.
Supporting Enhanced Trade Links
Starting with the latter we were extremely pleased to host:
- In Partnership with EI – Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs – Charlie Flanagan (Irish Ambassador to Canada – Ray Bassett in attendance) – (Hot House – St Patrick’s Day Breakfast)
- Bank of Ireland at a Business Breakfast – Derek Collins – Senior Director & Head of Global Foreign Direct Investment (National Club – Moderated by BNN’s Andrew Bell).
Continue to Focus on Our Local Presence
While helping foster enhanced trade links is very important we also place a huge importance on our presence locally here in Toronto.
- September 30th 2015 – Second Annual Presidents Dinner at One King West. Headlined by Cathal J. O’Connor, EVP & CFO of Cadillac Fairview Ltd., The evening was a great success and we hope this event can become a fixture on the Chamber calendar for many years to come.
- Other Events – Staples – Golf Day, the Quiz and the Christmas Party which were all great successes.
Sponsorship & Support
On the sponsorship front we were delighted to add Bank of Ireland as a corporate sponsor. Thankfully Scotiabank and KPMG remain our pillars. We also thank the various companies the kindly sponsor our various events throughout the year.
First Full Year of Executive Director
We were also delighted to add a new Executive Director, Cathy Murphy who has been instrumental in the day to day management of the Chamber. Continued improvement in our membership database, communication system and website. While still more work to go on this front we are very pleased with the progress to date.
There were a large number of resignations at the end of 2015 – Cormac Monaghan, Michael Monaghan, Damian Dupuy, Alannah McMahon, Ross O’Colmain and Eithne Heffernan. We thank them all sincerely for their major contributions to the Chamber and the Irish community in general. We are delighted that Cormac and Eithne have remained connected in an ambassadorial capacity as Honorary Directors. Pleased to have John Galway, Louise Scott, Treasa O’Loughlin and Neil Cooney (EI) join in the current year complementing our existing experience in Rob McDonnell (Vice President), Kyle McNamara and Carolyn Dunne. We also welcomed Dr. John O’Dwyer back to the front lines as Treasurer.
I would like to thank our Board of Directors for their unflinching support. Finally to our members, thank you for being part of the Chamber. You are the reason the Chamber continues to be so successful. 2015 was a great year for the Chamber and as we get ready to embrace the year ahead we do so with optimism and enthusiasm, confident in the knowledge that the Chamber continues to play a very important role in the Irish community here in Toronto.
Until Next Year!
AGM – 9th September 2015
I am pleased to report that the eighteen month period ending 31 December 2014 was an extremely positive one for the ICCCTO. During this period we remained true to our mandate by focusing on providing a network for our members to promote their business and professional interests while also supporting the development of enhanced trade links between Ireland and Canada.
Enhanced Trade Links – Business Summits
Starting with the latter we were extremely pleased to take on a leadership role on two transatlantic Ireland Canada Business Summits focused on promoting trade relations between the two countries in collaboration with our friends at the Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA) in Dublin. The first event took place in Dublin back in September 2013 under the inspired leadership of my predecessor Cormac Monaghan and featured the Honourable John Manly, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada who highlighted the importance of the Free Trade relationship between Canada and the EU. The second took place here in Toronto just over a year later in October 2014 and featured a range of high profile business speakers. Both events were extremely well attended and guests were left in no doubt that there is significant opportunity for enhanced economic collaboration in the future. We have just initiated conversations with the ICBA in Dublin about this next installment which appears likely to happen back in Ireland in 2016.
Continue to Focus on Our Local Presence
While helping foster enhanced trade links is very important we also place a huge importance on our presence locally here in Toronto. To that end on October 9th 2014 we hosted our Inaugural Presidents Dinner at One King West. David Walmsley, Editor in Chief of the Globe and Mail was the keynote speaker and we were also delighted to hear from the Honourable Dr. Kellie Leitch, Canada’s Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women. The evening was a great success and we hope this event can become a fixture on the Chamber calendar for many years to come.
Other events of note included hosting the current Mayor of John Tory in the run up to the election and the Minister for Finance from Ireland, Michael Noonan at the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast.
This is not to forget our regulars, the Golf Day, the Quiz and the Christmas Party which were all great successes.
On the sponsorship front we were delighted to add Bank of Ireland as a corporate sponsor and indeed host a fantastic Business Breakfast event in April. Thankfully Scotiabank and KPMG remain our pillars and attracting additional corporate sponsorship will be a key objective for the year ahead. We also thank the various companies the kindly sponsor our various events throughout the year.
New Executive Director
We were also delighted to add a new Executive Director, Cathy Murphy who has been instrumental in the day to day management of the Chamber. In particular she has played a very positive role upgrading our membership database, communication system and website. While still more work to go on this front we are very pleased with the progress to date.
Unfortunately, this year will also see significant change at Board Level with a number of long serving Director stepping down. Cormac Monaghan, Michael Monaghan, Damian Dupuy, Alannah McMahon and perhaps even Eithne Heffernan. We thank them all sincerely for their major contributions to the Chamber and the Irish community in general. We also lost Ross O’Colmain of Enterprise Ireland who moved south to lead the EI New York office.
Future Outlook – New Board & Governance
All this change obviously presents opportunity. To that end we will work diligently over the coming months to formally appoint the new Board, establish the Executive Roles and Committees and update our Bye Laws. This will lay the foundation for the Chamber to thrive for years to come.
I would like to thank our Board of Directors for their unflinching support. Finally to our members, thank you for being part of the Chamber. You are the reason the Chamber continues to be so successful. Once the new Board is established we look forward to collaborating with you on the future strategy and direction of the Chamber.
As we get ready to embrace the year ahead we do so with optimism and enthusiasm, confident in the knowledge that the Chamber continues to play a very important role in the Irish community here in Toronto.
Until Next Year!
President’s Update–February 2015
Looking back it was inevitable that 2014 would be a year of change for the Chamber but as Benjamin Franklin famously remarked “when you’re finished changing, you’re finished”. Although often difficult to navigate at the outset, looking back at last year’s highlights which featured the visit of the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, the third edition of the Ireland Canada Business Summit and our Inaugural Presidents Dinner, we are reminded that change can indeed have a very positive impact.
As we get ready to embrace the year ahead we do so with optimism and enthusiasm, confident in the knowledge that the Chamber continues to play a very important role in the Irish community here in Toronto. This has been clearly evidenced by the positive response to our recently launched membership campaign. If you are reading this and either haven’t got a chance to renew or are interested in joining for the first time you can get full details on our website at www.icccto.com.
In addition to the membership drive, top of the agenda for the Board at this time of year is the events calendar. I always think it is dangerous to look too far beyond March and this year is no different. We are looking forward to once again partnering with Enterprise Ireland on the Annual St Patrick’s Day Breakfast and are delighted to be supporting the fifth edition of the Toronto Irish Film Festival which runs from March 6th – 8th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. This year however, one event holds particular significance for everyone associated with the Chamber. At the Annual Luncheon on Sunday March 8th Chamber Past President Eddie Brett will be the fully deserving recipient of the 2015 Irish Person of the Year Award. Eddie’s contribution to the community over the five decades since his arrival on these shores in 1964 cannot be overstated and we sincerely congratulate him on his achievement.
Looking beyond March, we are very close to finalising the details of a high profile business breakfast in April featuring a very prominent Irish business leader. We look forward to revealing more details on that event along with our plans for the remainder of the year over the coming weeks. 2015 is shaping up to be another great year and there is no doubt that the Chamber continues to go from strength to strength.
In the near term we very much look forward to connecting with the broader community across the full spectrum of events over the coming weeks.
President’s Update – Fall 2014
The first time I encountered the phrase “busy season” was as a trainee accountant 10 years ago. Back in those days it referred to the period between January and April when the majority of companies were required to undergo their annual audit. If there was such a period in Chamber terms we would currently be right in the thick of it!
The first two events of this year’s busy season focused on the upcoming Mayoral Election in Toronto. On the evening of September 3rd we hosted an informal audience with Olivia Chow at PJ O’Brien’s and followed this with a breakfast event at the Hot House featuring John Tory on September 25th. Both events offered our members a unique insight into the motivations of two of the leading candidates to be the next Mayor of Toronto. In between, we partnered with the Ireland Canada Immigration Centre on their annual new arrivals networking event on September 9th. As an organization engaging with the next generation of Irish Canadians is of critical importance and yet again the night was a great success.
That brings us to October 9th! We once again collaborated with our good friends at The Ireland Canada Business Association in Dublin and the Ireland Fund of Canada to present the 3rd edition of the Ireland Canada Business Summit. The King Edward Hotel was the venue for this very well attended event which showcased a top class line up of speakers from both sides of the Atlantic. There is no question events of this nature have reinforced the strong business links and increased trade opportunities between the two countries and we are delighted continue to build on the momentum that has been generated in recent years.
Also on October 9th, we hosted our Inaugural Presidents Dinner at One King West. David Walmsley, Editor in Chief of the Globe and Mail was the keynote speaker and we were also delighted to hear from the Honourable Dr. Kellie Leitch, Canada’s Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women. The evening was a great success and we hope this event can become a fixture on the Chamber calendar for many years to come.
Busy season continues next month with our Annual Quiz Night at the Hot House on November 13th before signing off 2014 in our usual style with our Christmas party at PJ O’Brien’s on December 5th.We look forward to connecting with you before the year is out!
President’s Update – July 2014
It is July 1st and I am sitting here enjoying my 5th consecutive Canada Day on home soil. Looking out the window, one might easily be misled into thinking the location was somewhere along the west coast of Ireland rather than mid-town Toronto as the rain thunders down. Thankfully unlike the west coast normal service is expected to resume later in the day. Despite the good weather, the summer period has traditionally been an off season of sorts for the Chamber but as always we have a lot going on behind the scenes.
On the events front, the 2014 Brian Dolan Memorial Golf Classic took place on June 19th and was a terrific success. Thankfully the weather cooperated and gave us a beautiful day at Nobleton Lakes. The evening banquet was particularly poignant as we remembered Chamber Founding Member Vince O’Reilly. We were honoured to have Finola O’Reilly and her two sons Mark and Ryan in attendance. Following the meal we also paid a special tribute to Smitty (William Smith), everyone’s favourite photographer, who has recently announced his retirement (of sorts!). Smitty’s contribution to the Chamber and indeed the Irish Community has been monumental over the years and I have no doubt that we’ll see that camera in action again many times in the future.
In other news the Canadian Chambers across the country are currently working with our Irish counterparts, the ICBA, on a potential Ireland Canada Summit later in the year. Although still to be confirmed this would potentially involve a multi-city visit to Canada by a delegation of Irish companies seeking to showcase their businesses to a Canadian audience. This backs up the very successful Summit held in Dublin last September and clearly highlights the very strong business links that exist between the two countries. We look forward to sharing more detail on this event in the near future.
In less exiting news we are pleased to advise that under the new anti-spam laws, not-for-profit member-based organizations like the Chamber may continue send out periodic communications to its membership. That being said please make sure your membership is up to date so we can keep you informed of upcoming events.
So all in all the Chamber continues to drive on. We look forward to unveiling our fall schedule over the coming months and connecting with you all very soon.
President’s Update – February 2014
Living in Toronto for the last five years has certainly given a new meaning to the importance of St. Patrick’s Day. While back at home we politely tip our cap to the great man’s achievements and enjoy a day of rest and relaxation in his honour, here in Toronto the occasion is embraced with a verve and enthusiasm that I never could have imagined.
2014 will be no different! The events are all lined up and the Irish community is in a collective crouch position awaiting the starter’s gun. Some will go hard at the start but other more experienced campaigners know that this is a marathon not a sprint. However, it must be among the most enjoyable marathons out there. It all kicks off on February 28th with the Toronto Irish Film Festival which the Chamber is once again very proud to support.
A particular highlight for the Chamber this year will be our partnership with Enterprise Ireland for a St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast with Ireland’s Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan. Minister Noonan has been instrumental in restoring economic stability in Ireland and has played a pivotal role in executing Ireland’s recent exit from the EU/IMF bailout program. His achievements are such that the FT’s influential magazine “The Banker” recently named Minister Noonan as European Finance Minister of the Year.
Other highlights include the Irish Person of the Year Luncheon which the Chamber co-presents and this year honors the outstanding achievements of former Olympic Champion and Hockey Legend, Geraldine Heaney. Furthermore, this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 16th promises to be a great occasion and we look forward to welcoming Olympic Boxing Champion, Katie Taylor to Toronto as Grand Marshal.
Although we tend not to look backwards since our last update we were delighted to kick start our partnership with Scotiabank in February with an excellent seminar on the Financial Aspects of Running Small Businesses. This was hosted by Scotia in the elegant board room on the 63rd floor of their Corporate office and I am glad to say many of our members availed of this opportunity to take their careers to new heights! We look forward to further collaboration with Scotiabank and indeed our other sponsors in the months ahead.
So all in all a very busy period ahead but a lot to look forward to.
President’s Update–December 2013
When historians sit down to document the significant events of November 2013 in years to come one wonders what stories will dominate. In entertainment no doubt the release of the second instalment of the Hunger Games franchise will feature, in business perhaps the Twitter IPO will take centre stage while closer to home in politics the Rob Ford revelations will likely reign supreme. All indisputably notable events I’m sure you’ll agree but likewise all pale in significance when compared to the 10th Anniversary of the Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce Table Quiz!!
This annual event has long proven to be a highlight of the calendar and this year was certainly no different. Indeed folklore suggests that it has for some time been used as a screening tool for prospective Chamber Board members with many a bright young spark having their hopes of higher office dashed on the back of their performance at the quiz! On a more serious note however the quiz has in many ways become the embodiment of all that is good about the Chamber. An intellectually stimulating gathering of Irish and Canadians, spanning multiple generations across a range of professions and backgrounds unified by the desire to connect and expand their network in an enjoyable environment. Need I say anymore!
While undoubtedly a great success the quiz was not the only significant event to impact us in recent months. In September, the Chamber, led by Cormac Monaghan in conjunction with our sister Chambers across Canada, was instrumental in coordinating a very successful Business Gathering event in Dublin. The aim being to celebrate and strengthen the business links between Ireland and Canada. Over 200 people attended and were treated to a range of speakers from varying business backgrounds from both sides of the Atlantic. The keynote address was given by the Honourable John Manly, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada who focused on the importance of the Free Trade relationship between Canada and the EU. The links between Ireland and Canada have always been strong and events of this nature only serve to enhance this relationship. As a Chamber we intend to build on the momentum generated in Dublin in September and look forward to contributing to the next edition in Canada in 2015.
Then in November, after three years of inspirational leadership Cormac Monaghan decided to step down as Chamber President. Cormac’s contribution to the Chamber and indeed the Irish community cannot be overstated and on behalf of the Board and the membership I sincerely thank him for his dedicated service. On a positive note he hasn’t completely hung up the boots and will remain on the Board ensuring we continue to benefit from the wisdom and humility which were the hallmarks of his tenure. Similarly I extend my sincere thanks to outgoing Board Member Deirdre Slowey who has also decided to step down after five years of loyal service.
Taking over from Cormac is an honour and privilege and I look forward to embracing all of the challenges that lie ahead. As the 2013/14 Board meets for the first time in the coming weeks we will seek to design a roadmap for the Chamber that will best serve our membership for the next twelve months and beyond. Part of this strategy will undoubtedly be to leverage from the enthusiasm and ambition of the next generation of Irish Canadians who are arriving on these shores on a daily basis. Furthermore, while continually building on our important role in the community we will seek to remain true to our roots as a Chamber of Commerce by providing our membership with opportunities to foster existing and develop new business relationships.
Given the changing demographic of the Irish community in the city this is an exciting time to be involved in the Chamber and as always our membership gates are open. Details on how to join are available on our website at www.icccto.com. On the event front our Christmas Party is already looming large on the horizon and we look forward to connecting with as many of you as possible on December 13th in PJ O’Brien’s from 6pm.
Finally, as incoming President, I am acutely aware of the history of the Chamber and in particular those who have laid the foundation for the successful organisation that exists today. In that regard, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the enormous contribution of Eamonn O’Loughlin, our long serving Executive Director who we sadly lost so unexpectedly earlier this year. Eamonn’s business acumen, spirit and love of all things Irish were instrumental driving the Chamber forward over the last twenty years and will remain at the core of the Chambers philosophy in the years ahead.