" An Evening with President Clinton"

Thursday, November 8th, 2001
Roundup Centre, Stampede Park
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

After several months of frenzied anticipation, former U.S. President Bill Clinton arrived in Calgary on November 8th as the keynote speaker for Calgary Renaissance Corporation’s inaugural event in the Connecting Calgary Series, featuring a sold-out VIP Reception and Gala Dinner.

President Clinton’s private jet arrived to a welcome party that included Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier and his family, Calgary Renaissance president Greg Habstritt, CEO Grant Doyle, and Tamara Woolgar, coordinator of CRC’s Young Leaders Program.  Also present were long-time Clinton friends Charlene Prickett and Jim Waugh, along with their daughter Xanna and the Calgary Renaissance Advance Team Leader, Deb Barkley.

After approximately 15 minutes of greeting on the tarmac, President Clinton’s motorcade then proceeded to the Sheraton Eau Claire Suites so that President Clinton could change into his tuxedo.  From there, it was on to the elegant La Caille on the Bow, where 150 VIP guests gathered to meet the former President and have a souvenir photo taken with him.  Immediately upon his entrance, the buzz and excitement in the crowd quickly was silenced as a hush fell over the crowd.  The silence was followed by hearty applause as U.S. Secret Service and RCMP escorted an unannounced President Clinton into La Caille.  During the course of the next forty five minutes, President Clinton shook hands and posed for photos while chatting affably with fans and well-wishers.

Following the VIP Reception at La Caille, guests were transported to the Round-Up Centre at Stampede Park where the party was in full swing for the 1,300 Gala Dinner ticket holders.  Local favourites "The Dino Martinis" provided the entertainment before and after dinner.  Upon the arrival of the Presidential motorcade, local adventurer and the evening’s emcee Jamie Clarke introduced the head table beginning with Premier Ralph Klein, Mayor Dave Bronconnier, Greg Habstritt and Grant Doyle.  It was a truly electrifying moment as former President Clinton entered the room and took his place at the head table, as 1,400 Calgarians welcomed him with an extended standing ovation.

Premier Klein opened the evening with a heartfelt welcome to President Clinton, also offering his condolences on behalf of Albertans for the events of September 11th.  Following Premier Klein, Mayor Bronconnier then offered his own sincere welcome to President Clinton, highlighting the fact that 40,000 Americans call Calgary ‘home’.  Calgary Renaissance President Greg Habstritt, and CEO Grant Doyle also welcomed President Clinton and thanked all those in attendance for their support of Calgary Renaissance’s inaugural event.  The American National Anthem was sung by country music recording artist Jack Jackson, followed by ‘O Canada’, sung by Nicole Brennan of The Dino Martinis.  Reverend Jim Wallace said ‘grace’ prior to dinner, which consisted of an appetizer of smoked gruyere and asiago cheese lattice filled with portobello mushrooms, lettuce, artichokes and peppers with cranberry vinaigrette, an entrée of Alberta prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and roasted vegetables, and pomegranate mousse for dessert.

The second portion of the program began during dessert, when the two charities benefiting from the evenings proceeds were introduced.  Guests viewed short video clips from the Canadian Paraplegic Association and AIDS Awareness Calgary.  Calgary Renaissance Corporation’s Tamara Woolgar took the stage to discuss the goals of the Young Leaders Program, and to introduce the winners of the 2001 CRC Scholarships.  President Clinton presented the awards to the four winners who each received a $1000 scholarship towards their post-secondary education.  The 2001 winners were:  Carolyn Wong, Grade 9, Nickle Junior High, David Shaw, Grade 10, St. Francis High School, Jamie Moore, Grade 11, William Aberhart High School, and Aaswath Raman, Grade 12, Western Canada High School. 

Following the presentations, Mayor Dave Bronconnier, in a touching and eloquent introduction, welcomed to the podium our keynote speaker and honoured guest, the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton. 

President Clinton not only lived up to his reputation as a great orator, but during the course of his 50 minute speech, it was evident that President Clinton is also an individual who cares deeply about his country, their relationship with Canada, and about the responsibility of the wealthy countries of the world to assist in the healing, growth, security, and success of the global community.  It was a speech filled with wisdom and insight, comfort and inspiration.

During the closing ceremonies, guests were invited to enjoy more mingling and music at an after-party in an adjacent area of the Round-up Centre.  As President Clinton left the building, he made sure to work his way down the rope line to greet and visit with the crowd of admirers.  As the party continued into the wee hours of the morning, we all felt that we had experienced a truly momentous and unforgettable event.

A sincere “thank-you” to all who attended Calgary Renaissance’s “An Evening with Bill Clinton”.  It was a remarkable evening in an extraordinary city!

To view the entire written transcript of President Clinton's speech, click here.

Below are a selection of photographs taken during the evening.

Upon his arrival at Calgary International Airport by private plane, President Clinton was welcomed by Calgary Renaisssance C.E.O. Grant Doyle (middle), and company President Greg Habstritt (right).

La Caille on the Bow was the unannounced location where the private VIP reception was held for about 150 people who had an opportunity to personally meet and be photographed with President Clinton.

All attendees of the VIP Reception at La Caille were able to have a professional photo taken with President Clinton, like the one above with the Coordinator of the Young Leaders Program, Tamara Woolgar.


President Clinton, Mayor Dave Bronconnier (middle) and Alberta's Premier Klein share a laugh and some conversation prior to dinner.

The Head Table for the evening dinner and presentation.  From left to right:  Mayor Bronconnier, CRC's Grant Doyle, Premier Klein, the evening's master of ceremonies Jamie Clarke, President Clinton (at podium), and CRC's Greg Habstritt.

President Clinton and Greg Habstritt of Calgary Renaissance share a laugh during the dinner.

Over 1,300 people were in attendance for the sold-out gala evening, and the Calgary Stampede Roundup Centre did a tremendous job organizing and servicing the event.  The evening's splendid decor made the evening a truly spectacular visual event.

Above and below, President Clinton addressing the crowd during his 50 minute speech that was both inspiring and comforting in such an historic time.

Premier Klein, Grant Doyle and Mayor Bronconnier all listen intently as President Clinton speaks.

Following his address, President Clinton was presented with a customary gift from the City of Calgary - a white stetson, presented proudly by Mayor Bronconnier.

During the dinner, President Clinton also awarded the four scholarship winners with their recognition plaques and cheques, including David Shaw, above, who was the Grade 10 winner of the essay competition.

During the question and answer period, a relaxed President Clinton responded to a variety of questions that were submitted in advance and read by Jamie Clarke.

With the evening's program concluded, President Clinton left the room after working his way down the rope-line, shaking hands and greeting many of the enthusiastic audience members.