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  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Presentation of Letters of Credence (South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Hungary, Nicaragua, Moldova)

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The Citadelle, Tuesday February 8, 2011


Welcome to the Citadelle.

Over 400 years ago, Samuel de Champlain founded this beautiful city of Quebec, establishing himself as one of Canada’s most renowned historical figures, and earning himself the title “father of New France.”

The Pulitzer Prize winning historian David Hackett Fischer has written a wonderful biography of Champlain entitled Champlain’s Dream.  Some of Fischer’s thoughts are particularly fitting for us today.

Champlain devoted his life to pursuing a dream. A dream born out of his experiences in a world torn apart by civil war and religious strife. A dream that anticipated a new world in which people of different religions, cultures and creeds could live together in peace.

Over the course of many years, Champlain transformed his dream into reality. He was able to do this largely because of his ability to bring people together. People whose experiences were vastly different from one another. People who worked and lived worlds apart. People who otherwise would have not been able to see eye-to-eye.

From royalty to commoner, European to North American, Protestant to Catholic, Champlain learned the importance of working with others. He learned how to work in a world of many circles. How to build bridges between people with honesty, trust and respect. How to capitalize on peoples’ victories and to minimize their defeats. And how to show others that he was genuinely interested in them, and comfortable with their diversity.

Fischer’s portrayal of Champlain reminds me of what you, as diplomats, do every day. You, too, move in a world of many circles, fostering relationships between those in your countries and mine. You work with people who are often different from yourselves. You facilitate a necessary and important international dialogue with your very presence in our Capital. You inject a measure of friendship, trust and goodwill into critical issues that affect us all. And you help to ensure that each and every one of us can enjoy a more peaceful, secure and prosperous world.

And in this way, you are sustaining and advancing Champlain’s dream. So, in that spirit, I am very pleased to welcome you and your families to Canada by receiving your letters of credence.

High Commissioner Pheko, I am certain that your many years of experience in business, journalism, non-governmental organizations and public health will position you well to undertake your work on behalf of South Africa in Canada.

South Africa has become one of Canada’s principal political and commercial partners, and we look forward to broadening and strengthening our bilateral relationship. For two countries at opposite ends of the globe, the strong growth of our commercial relationship is a significant development. Canada appreciates South Africa’s important contribution to peacemaking in Africa. We are committed to working in partnership with you to promote peace and stability throughout the African continent.

High Commissioner Buxo, you are no stranger to Canada because of the time you have spent working and living here since 2007.  Your leadership and communication skills, coupled with your large and diverse network of decision-makers within Canada and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), will undoubtedly position you well as you embark on your new position as High Commissioner.

I know that researchers at the University of Ottawa and the University of West Indies are working in partnership with coastal communities in Canada and several Caribbean countries to exchange ideas on how these mostly indigenous communities can adapt to climate change.

Trinidad and Tobago is a close friend to Canada, and a major partner for us in the Caribbean and the Hemisphere. Canada appreciates the leadership you provide in the CARICOM group of countries. We look forward to developing our strong relationship even further through closer cooperation on security and energy issues and increased bilateral trade and investment.

Ambassador Udomphol, I commend you for your more than 30 years of public service. I share your desire to serve, and hope for the chance to benefit from the lessons you have no doubt learned over your career.

Canada looks forward to celebrating 50 years of Thai-Canadian diplomatic relations this year. We are pleased that our bilateral relationship continues to expand and deepen in areas including cooperation to combat migrant smuggling, trade and commerce, and tourism. As a lifelong student and educator, I am particularly pleased that academic relations are an important part of our bilateral relationship. I have seen, firsthand, the value of long-standing cooperative agreements between universities around the world for students, professors and researchers alike.

Ambassador Pordany, I am interested to learn more about your studies and publications in the fields of language and culture. As you know, these are important issues for all Canadians. I trust you will feel right at home in Canada because of our large and vibrant Hungarian-Canadian communities.

Canada values our excellent relationship with Hungary. We share strong historical ties, and a commitment to peace, security and respect for human rights. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with the conclusion of the Canada-Hungary Youth Mobility Agreement, which will make it easier for youth to travel and work in our respective countries. We wish Hungary every success with its EU Presidency.

Ambassador Campbell, you are also a wonderful example of a committed public servant. I am certain that Canada will benefit from your more than 30 years of distinguished service within the Central American Parliament and Nicaraguan embassies around the world. I am also interested in learning more about your academic career.

Canada values its long-standing relationship with Nicaragua, especially in the areas of development cooperation, commerce and investment. We look forward to continuing to build on this relationship in the years to come.

Ambassador Munteanu, I am pleased to learn of your academic career and work in public administration. I hope we will have a chance to discuss your work further. I am particularly interested in learning about the public policy curriculum you developed for university students.

Canada welcomes and supports enhanced cooperation between Moldova and Euro-Atlantic institutions, including in the areas of democratic reform and the rule of law. We are pleased with the way Moldova has been working alongside NATO countries in the fight against terrorism. Canada looks forward to deepening our bilateral relationship in the future.

So once again, welcome to Canada and to the Citadelle. It is my sincere honour to congratulate you on behalf of all Canadians. My wife Sharon and I look forward to getting to know each one of you better.

Thank you.