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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 • •

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