The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Reception for Outgoing Canadian Heads of Mission

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Reception for Outgoing Canadian Heads of Mission

Rideau Hall, Friday, June 11, 2010

It is a tradition here at Rideau Hall to hold a reception every spring for the outgoing Canadian heads of mission, and it is always a great pleasure for my husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, and me to celebrate with you as you launch this exciting new stage in your careers.

Throughout my mandate as Governor General of Canada, I have gone on—more often than not with Jean-Daniel’s support—thirty-six missions abroad, which included many State visits, official visits and working visits.

And to this list, we can now add a new category—to use a Foreign Affairs expression—the “friendship visit,” which Jean-Daniel and I, accompanied by a very “friendly” delegation, will make to China to celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations with that country, our historical ties and alliances, and to consider the wide horizon of possibility in the years to come.

During these visits, I had the opportunity to speak with other heads of State to advance certain issues and discuss challenges that require a concerted approach.

However, I believe that diplomacy should not be exercised at the highest decision-making levels exclusively.

It should also resonate within civil society. It should be creative and take risks.

That is why every time, Jean-Daniel and I have met with the women, men and young people who breathe life into the countries we visited.

We listened to representatives from the civil, academic and cultural communities in every country, just as we enjoy doing here in Canada.

We took the time to talk to those who create, those who make things happen, and share and circulate ideas, who help resolve conflicts, reduce poverty and disease, and who fight to ensure that rights are respected, that democracy progresses and that hope is reborn.

We often went where the decision makers of those countries did not expect us to go, which sometimes resulted in unexpected surprises and always in interesting connections.

As you know, during every one of our visits and missions abroad, we were accompanied by a delegation.

People who were chosen not only because of what they brought with them—their field of activity, their ability to reflect our Canadian values and perspectives, and the wealth of our diversity—but also because of the ties we wanted to establish one-on-one with the countries we were visiting.

We practiced what my husband and I like to call diplomacy on a human level, on a citizen level, “une diplomatie de proximité,” in the hope of creating solidarities and encouraging new ideas and projects, in the hope of increasing the number of opportunities for sharing.

This “diplomatie de proximité” also helps multiply and widen the field of perspectives and points of view that deserve to be heard and collected.

These visits were a success, in large part, because of the excellence of the Canadian missions abroad, because of their willingness to serve and their sense of duty, because of their knowledge of the countries in which they work, knowledge of their cultures, traditions and different points of view, and because of the productive collaborations they have been able to foster.

They were also a success because of the great relationship we developed with the teams and those working at Foreign Affairs here in Ottawa.

And I would like to take this opportunity to thank them—to thank you—very much.

It is most often through you, through the diplomatic channels you establish and through the work you do on the ground, that these countries are able to find sustainable political solutions, to increase their opportunities to prosper, and to eliminate the causes of conflict.

In this sense, the role you play is vital.

Vital to the relations that Canada has with people around the world and that can make all the difference, as we experience unprecedented openness around the world and strive to find common solutions to the challenges we are all facing.

Vital to developing Canada’s identity on the international stage.

So now, dear friends, it is your turn to travel the world to represent our country abroad. 

We wish you all the greatest success.