MAKING THE TRIP WORTHWHILE
and the same year, helped organize a large high-profile delegation to China, led by then mayor of Toronto Art Eggleton.
In subsequent years, he has accompanied other mayors to visit Chongqing, and was most recently part of Toronto Mayor John Tory’s mission to Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Japan.
His long list of accomplishments did not stop at facilitating business ties, as he envisioned Canada-Chinese relations to prosper on multiple levels and various aspects — economically, politically, culturally and socially.
A good example was bringing about the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival when he was president of the Toronto Chinese Business Association. The unique Chinese traditional festival draws more than 200 international teams to compete annually and has become a signature event.
Recently, he’s been passionate about sharing his vision of what he called the “Golden Decade” for Canada-Chinese relations — marked by the landslide comeback of the Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau last October. He can see all kinds of positive changes and opportunities coming for China and Canada in the coming eight to 10 years under his leadership.
“Ever since Justin Trudeau got elected, he has been talking to everybody,” said Tan. “He also actively participates at multilateral forums by meeting with G20 leaders, reconnecting with traditional Canadian allies like France and the United Kingdom, and rebuilding Canada’s peace-keeping role on the world stage.”
He also observed that Trudeau promptly met with President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit, pledging to strengthen co-operation with China and to set a fresh approach to Canada-Chinese relations.
Notably, his father — former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau — was lauded by the Chinese leader for his “extraordinary vision” to reach out to China and establish formal diplomatic relations back in 1970, before the United States followed suit in 1978.
With the start of another “Trudeau era”, life seems to have come full circle for this long-standing relationship between China and Canada.
Tan is a witness to how this full circle revolved, as he arrived in Canada in 1968, just in time to see how Pierre Trudeau became a legendary leader. And last year, he was in a good position to feel the impact that Justin Trudeau made with his openminded and outgoing persona.
“It’s going to be a win-win situation for all,” he said.
As an example, he mentioned how Canadian aerospace and transportation giant Bombardier Inc, which has been going through financial hardships, could offer its advanced technology and craftsmanship that’s much needed in China’s infrastructure projects in return for more international business growth and financial relief.
In September, he will organize a high-level summit on investment and taxation — the first of its kind in Canada.
He also founded the Bond Education Group in 1978 to deliver educational programs to students in both Canada and China. On top of that, he also has a high concern for issues in the Chinese community.
As the co-founder and executive chairman emeritus of National Congress of Chinese Canadians, the largest Chinese Canadian organization in Canada, his most significant contribution to the community was his leadership role in the campaign to redress the Head Tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act, eventually leading to a formal apology to the Chinese community by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Parliament in 2006.
Seeing how different generations of Chinese immigrants have evolved, he is ready to embrace the increasing diversity in background and higher • BA level of education and skills among the 1.5 million Chinese population in Canada. He believes that Chinese Canadians are also gaining influence in the Canadian society.
If you wonder where all his passion and energy comes from, as now in his 70s he is still taking on many daunting tasks and responsibilities, you would probably find the answer in a book about Tan titled Pursuit of Justice published last year.
He would readily share with you that he only sleeps five or six hours a day, drives himself to work and flies to any part of the world to get things done.
And it’s not just about getting things done in your job.
“Outside of your job, you also need to be doing something good for society,” he said. “That’s a matter of value in life, and in this short life, we need to make the trip worth the while.”
Toronto lawyer Ping T. Tan introduces a new book about him entitled Pursuing Justice: Ping Tan, Chinese Canadian Leader at the book launch last August in Toronto. PING T. TAN
History, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland (1970) MA History, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland (1972) LLB Law School, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario (1975) • •
Career: • Law practice in Toronto since
Organizations: • President, Toronto Chinese Business Association (1984 - 1986) Co-Founder and Honorary Chairman, Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations Co-Founder and Executive Chairman Emeritus, National Congress of Chinese Canadians Founder and Chairman, Canada China Society of Chinese Entrepreneurs • •