The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Presentation of Credentials (Slovak Republic, Republic of Iraq, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Republic of Chile, Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic)

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Presentation of Credentials (Slovak Republic, Republic of
Iraq, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Republic of Chile,
Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic)

Rideau Hall, Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It is a pleasure to welcome you to Rideau Hall, and at the same time to wish you a warm welcome to Canada.

In few days' time, Canada will be hosting the G20 and G8 Summits, in Toronto and Huntsville, Ontario.

In light of the issues that will be addressed, including health, security and sustainable development, our paths are now clearly intertwined, and that interdependence calls for a global, concerted approach.

In these times when countries must work together to find common solutions to the challenges affecting all of us, I believe we need to take advantage of every opportunity to strengthen the ties that unite us, and today's ceremony reflects that spirit of cooperation.

During my term of office as Governor General of Canada, I will have undertaken 36 missions abroad—State, official and working visits—to all of the regions you represent.

I undertook one of those missions at the end of 2008, a State visit to Slovakia, and Ambassador Kollár, I can tell you that it left some indelible memories for me. Especially that it coincided with the fortieth anniversary of the repression of 1968, and I was touched to see first-hand how far the Slovak people have come to regain their freedom, promote democracy and carve out a place for themselves on the international scene.

Over time, our countries have forged strong ties of friendship.

After the coup d’état in 1948 and the Soviet invasion in 1968, Canada welcomed many Slovak refugees.

Today, there are 64,000 Canadians of Slovak origin, whose ties with Slovakia help to strengthen our already solid relations. 

As you will recall, Canada was the first country to ratify Slovakia's membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

And our countries work closely together within many multilateral organizations, like the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Excellency, welcome to Canada.

Canada has always promoted democracy, and feels it is crucial to encourage it throughout the world, including Iraq, where there is a manifest desire to emerge from years of oppression and conflict.

Ambassador Al-Hussaini, you can rest assured that Canadians share Iraqis’ hopes for stability, peace and prosperity.

Canada is determined to work with the Iraqi government and its international partners, in the interest of all Iraqis.

Our goal is to help Iraq become a stable, autonomous and prosperous country, with a democratic, representative government that respects the basic rights of all its citizens.

Moreover, we encourage the Iraqi government and neighbouring countries to find common ground on issues still in dispute.

In that spirit, Canada welcomes strengthened economic and political cooperation between Iraq and its neighbours, and considers these a promise for a brighter future.

Because for Canadians, dialogue among cultures is fundamental.

Welcome, Excellency.

The countries of the Americas, including Canada, are lands of intermingled cultures, which are enriched every day by the many contributions of Aboriginal peoples and peoples from every corner of the globe.

Despite that diversity that is our hallmark, we are all united by a common history and a shared desire to be open to the world.

Ambassador Madriz, we are called on throughout the continent to pool our strengths, while respecting differences, for the good of all.

That is why Canada and Venezuela are maintaining an open, constructive dialogue on issues of democratic governance and economic and social development. 

That dialogue is based on a longstanding friendship, growing cultural and academic ties, and solid trade relations.

Venezuela is Canada’s fourth-largest trading partner in the Latin America and Caribbean region, excluding Mexico.

Ambassador, we are convinced that your posting to Canada will help to make the ties that Canada and Venezuela have maintained for over 60 years even more productive.

Welcome, Excellency.

Ambassador Ibarra, I believe that the spirit of solidarity and generosity shown by Canada and other American states toward the Chilean people, after the earthquake last February, is in and of itself eloquent testimony to the ties that unite the peoples of the Americas.

From my own experience, as someone whose country of birth was also devastated, I know how important that solidarity is to regain hope and rebuild. I also know the leading role Chile has always played in Haiti, including within MINUSTAH, and so I want to express a very heartfelt thank-you to you and your country.

And you may rest assured, Ambassador, that Canadians are keeping the Chilean and Haitian peoples in their hearts in these still very trying times. 

Excellency, ever since democracy was restored in Chile, our countries have strengthened their ties at all levels — political, economic, social and cultural.

One of the shining examples of the partnership we have forged is undoubtedly the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, which was ratified in 1997.

Moreover, we are delighted with the progress that has been made since the signing of the Canada-Chile Partnership Framework, in 2007, to expand the scope of current exchanges and cooperation in key fields like science and technology, the environment, agriculture, sustainable development, education, youth exchanges, and culture.

We will be happy to have the opportunity to work with you to broaden that cooperation to other sectors.

Welcome, Excellency.

Ambassador Ndong Mba, I recently completed a third trip to Africa, and after undertaking state and official visits to ten African countries, I saw how women and men everywhere are rising with courage, conviction and dignity to the challenges facing them, and how they are participating in the rebirth of all of the African continent.

Canada welcomes and places great hope in efforts to foster populations’ well-being. 

We therefore encourage Equatorial Guinea to ensure good governance and respect for human rights.

Poverty, for example, continues to raise strong concerns. So we hope that recent efforts to promote the country’s economic development bode well for the population’s future. 

Moreover, Ambassador Ndong Mba, Canada and Equatorial Guinea have shared the place of international collaboration and solidarity embodied by the Francophonie ever since Equatorial Guinea adopted French as a second national language after Spanish, and we are very pleased with those developments.

Welcome, Excellency.

Ambassador Moussa-Kembe, the Central African Republic is also part of the extended family of the Francophonie.

Within that forum, we naturally defend the place and influence of a language and a culture that we share historically and that are enriched by our specificities, within a rich diversity.

But within that space of the Francophonie, we also defend peace and justice, by strengthening the rule of law.

On behalf of those values, Canada supports all efforts to improve political governance, security and respect for human rights and freedoms in the regions of Africa trying to extricate themselves from years of instability and conflict, including the Central African Republic.

As a member of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, Canada applauds the Central African Republic's efforts to put in place an integrated post-conflict recovery strategy.

Furthermore, and this also concerns you, Ambassador Ndong Mba, let me say how delighted Canada is with the idea of taking on the role of Facilitator in the Congo Basin Forest Partnership. 

The Congo Basin is a vast region that forms the planet’s other vital lung and is the second-largest tropical forest in the world after Amazonia, covering a portion of each of the territories of Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic.

Please know that it is important to Canadians that Canada is participating, together with you and some 50 other countries, in the preservation of those forests and their exceptional biodiversity, which are a natural heritage jewel for your countries and for all of humanity.

Welcome, Excellency.

We need to work together, in a spirit of sharing and openness. We need to forge partnerships for the prosperity and development of our respective populations and the whole world.

To solidarity, and to friendship!