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  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Unveiling of the Michaëlle Jean Tulip

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Unveiling of the Michaëlle Jean Tulip

Rideau Hall, Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First of all, on behalf of all Canadians, I would like to express my sincerest condolences on the loss of so many Dutch people in the recent plane crash in Libya. We would like to wish the one Dutch child who miraculously survived the very best as he returns home to the Netherlands. Our thoughts are with all the grieving families and friends.

Canada and the Netherlands are united by a history of friendship, just as we are united to you, Princess Margriet, as you were born and lived here for the first four years of your life, when your country was occupied by Nazi forces.

We remember that the people of the Netherlands welcomed Canadian troops with great joy on May 5, 1945, when they liberated Western Holland, which had just gone through a particularly difficult winter, and were nearly out of food and coal.

A few days later, the armistice was signed in Reims.

It was the end of the Second World War, which resulted in the loss of millions of lives and the horrors of which left indelible marks on our memories.

The expressions of gratitude your people continue to show our Canadian soldiers and veterans touches us deeply and reminds us of the power of solidarity, especially this year, as we commemorate the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands.

Moreover, every year, you send us tulip bulbs as a token of your gratitude, and this generous gift has given rise to one of the greatest annual festivals in our nation’s capital, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Your tulips are renowned around the world and have become an emblem of the Netherlands. So I am extremely honoured and touched that one is being dedicated to me. What greater tribute can there be than to have a flower named after you?

May the Michaëlle Jean tulip be among the living symbols of this history of friendship that unites our peoples and of the human values they share.

Princess Margriet, Professor van Vollenhoven, no matter where you go in Canada, you are at home, and you will always be welcomed with joy, warmth and hospitality.

Let me say: To regained freedom and the friendship between our people! We are delighted to have you here with us.