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Farewell Reception hosted by the Speakers of the Senate and the House of Commons

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Farewell Reception hosted by the Speakers of the Senate and the House of Commons

Ottawa, Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, and I would like to thank you very much for this reception and for giving us the opportunity to say goodbye, as my mandate as 27th governor general of Canada draws to a close.

Dear friends, for the past five years, parliamentary life in this country has been rather eventful, to say the least. I have read no less than five speeches from the Throne since 2005. Some would no doubt see this as evidence of Canada’s democratic health . . . and certainly of mine!

All joking aside, for a woman who grew up under the yoke of a merciless dictatorship, every minute of every day—and even more in context of my current mandate—I understand the true worth of the democratic values that form the very foundation of Canada, this country we love so much.

Each of our encounters with Canadians, whether they took place south or north of the 69th parallel, has shown us the wealth of our diversity and the strength of our willingness to showcase our country on the world stage as a peaceful place, a place where each and every one of us—through our individuality and uniqueness—contributes to our combined strength.

A diverse and shared place, as I said in my installation speech, a place where our histories intersect and come together in a willingness to exchange ideas, a search for justice and a spirit of freedom.

I can only hope I have helped fuel the dialogue between the women, men and youth of this country, allowed productive meetings to be held—often between citizens and decision makers from all sectors and all levels of government at home and also in the context of nearly 40 missions abroad—and reflected the voice of Canadians, a voice of hope, one that strives to listen and to be heard, always ready to broaden its horizons.

Breaking down solitudes, according to my motto, ending isolation and building on our desire to live together: these were and remain the objectives of the governor general who stands before you today, a woman born in a country where the social foundations had collapsed, where power was exercised brutally to the detriment of all, a woman who was extraordinarily lucky to be able to pursue her dreams in a country where anything is possible, our country.

And with this luck came great responsibility. The responsibility to spread hope and, as much as possible, give it the means to be realized.

That is also the nature of your work, as Parliamentarians, and the most noble and desirable meaning we can give our democracy.

Therefore, as I have so often done, in my capacity as guardian of our democratic life, in discussing with a number of you the fears and hopes the Canadian population has shared with me, I hope to continue this dialogue and continue listening to the concerns and aspirations of my fellow Canadians.

I strongly encourage all of you to create more opportunities to talk to Canadians, whose generosity, creativity and ingenuity will never cease to amaze me.

I still believe that good governance is first and foremost inclusive. The people of this country want to be part of the solutions, and God know how often they have told me this. 

My greatest joy as Governor General of Canada has been getting closer to the actions and dreams of all Canadians.

I will end by joking that although one is not born the governor general of Canada, the position certainly doesn’t kill you either.

In the context of my new duties as part of the big United Nations family, as UNESCO’s special envoy for the reconstruction of the educational system, and the heritage and cultural infrastructures in Haiti,I would like to continue working with you. I sincerely hope this will happen. My office will be here at the University of Ottawa.

On behalf of Jean-Daniel and myself, I would like to tell you how grateful we are and we thank you for the friendship you have shown us.