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U of T alumni event draws distinguished crowd

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London, England — A celebration in Britain’s capital city this week publicly marked the appointment of Gordon Campbell as Canada’s new official envoy as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and underlined recent developments that reinforce Canada–UK relations.

Campbell, the former Liberal Premier of British Columbia, was the star of a reception in London’s Canary Wharf financial district organized by the University of Toronto and hosted by David Peterson, former Liberal Premier of Ontario and now chancellor at U of T.

The event took place just days before Campbell returned to Ottawa to help greet British Prime Minister David Cameron on his first solo visit to Canada at a time when the transatlantic relationship between Britain and Canada is growing stronger.

“The connections we have between Canada and the United Kingdom, particularly educational connections, are invaluable,” said Campbell, who started his new job on September 15.

“We often think about commerce and trade, but I think it starts with people and as we go into the 21st century, it seems to me that we want to connect institutions that are known for innovation, creativity, and expanding the boundaries of knowledge because that’s where we’re going to build the quality of life on which we’ve learned to depend.”

The Canadian celebration reflected a recent increasing effort on the part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reinvigorate the relationship between Canada and the United Kingdom.

Harper prominently welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last Canada Day – July 1st marked the start of their first official tour as newlyweds.

Harper also has plans to reinstate the reference to “Royal” for branches of Canadian military forces—Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force.

About 120 U of T alumni were at the Canary Wharf Four Seasons Hotel to hear a presentation about cities titled “Successful Societies” with Professor Meric Gertler, Dean of the U of T Faculty of Arts & Science, and Lyse Doucet, a correspondent and presenter with BBC World News who graduated in 1992 from U of T with a masters degree in political economy.

“I always fall back on what our great novelist Robertson Davies said in ‘What’s Bred in the Bone’ — you don’t forget where you come from, so it’s fantastic that in the heart of London, we’re meeting people who’ve mostly gone to U of T, a lot of them from Canada,” Doucet said.