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Honourable Senators,

I rise today to celebrate the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games which begin tomorrow March 7th to 16th in Sochi, Russia.

54 elite Canadian para-athletes will compete against approximately 575 others from 45 nations.  This is the largest number of para-athletes to compete in a Paralympic Winter Games.

The Canadian Team will compete in six sports, Alpine Skiing, Nordic, Biathalon, wheelchair Curling, Sledge Hockey, and for the first time, Snowboarding.  We have medal potential in every single sport and our sledge hockey and curling teams are entering the Sochi Paralympics as the reigning World Champions.

As a BC Senator, it was an honour for me to have the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games hosted in my hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2018 the Paralympic Winter Games will be held in PyeongChang Korea.

In 2010, I also had the privilege to serve on the Canadian Paralympic Foundation in support of Canada’s Paralympics and the promotion of elite athleticism. For all of the sponsors, volunteers, organizers, Parliamentarians and community members who rallied around our amazing para-athletes to achieve their Paralympic dreams, I extend my deepest appreciation and respect.

As co-chair of the Rolling Rampage on Parliament Hill, along with the Honorable Jim Munson, I have seen the incredible passion and determination of the elite wheelchair athletes from Canada and the world who compete in a 10K race on the Hill. They do not see their disability as a barrier to success, but rather as Senator Kochhar said “the wheelchair is a symbol of freedom and ability”. They are an inspiration to all of us. I encourage all of you to participate once again in this year’s Rolling Rampage on Parliament Hill on October 10, 2014.

I look forward to cheering on our wheelchair athletes and all para-athletes from across Canada competing at the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi. I know all Canadians will come together to cheer on our athletes who will make Canada proud.

Honorable Senators, I ask you to join me in wishing our Canadians athletes the best of luck!

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