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  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Presentation of Letters of Credence (Republic of Guyana, Federative Republic of Brazil, Malaysia, State of Qatar)

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Rideau Hall, Tuesday March 22, 2011


Welcome to Rideau Hall. 

Canadians are known for how we have sustained unity by promoting diversity over the course of our history. In large part, we have done this by celebrating the many cultures, ethnicities and traditions of those who have come from around the world to make Canada their home.

In 1937, Canada’s 15th governor general, John Buchan, lauded the way that immigrants enriched Canada’s culture. He urged them to “retain their individuality and make [their] contribution to the national character,” so that all Canadians “could learn from the other and … while they cherish their own special loyalties and traditions, they cherish not less that new loyalty and tradition which springs from their union.” 

I believe his words have strong parallels to the global community as well. As all of you know, global institutions allow countries to bring their “individuality” to the table. They enable people to cherish their own countries, while opening their minds to new ideas through united courses of action. They allow people of different cultures, ethnicities, religions and traditions to work together as one. In short, global institutions affirm how unity can, indeed, grow out of diversity.

Today, perhaps more than ever before, we need to strengthen our global institutions so that they can successfully respond to conflict, tragedy and disaster. Technology has played a constructive role in this regard, to be sure. Nevertheless, I truly believe that nothing will strengthen our global institutions more than healthy face-to-face relationships. People-to-people ties. One-on-one dialogue. Good old- fashioned diplomacy.

The Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson, Canada’s 14th prime minister, was renowned for his contributions to the international community during the 1950s and 1960s. Indeed, the building that houses Canada’s department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade bears his name. He once said that “there can be no more important purpose for any man’s activity or interests than to promote fraternity between nations.”

That is your role as diplomats. You facilitate an exchange of ideas. You build bridges to smooth over differences. You ensure that my country understands the needs and positions of your own. You build and equip our global institutions so they can continue to move forward in the years to come. In short, you foster unity through diversity. And for that, I congratulate you and wish you well as you begin your work here in Canada. 

High Commissioner Nawbatt, I know that your experience in government and the public sector will serve you well during your time in Canada. I was very pleased to learn that you began your career as a primary school teacher. I sincerely believe that children are our world’s most precious resource, and that there is no higher calling than that of “teacher.” 

Canada and Guyana enjoy a long-standing, positive relationship, especially in the areas of trade, investment and development assistance. We value the important contributions that Canada’s large Guyanese community makes to Canadian society, culture and business. Our people-to-people ties are vital for sustaining our bilateral relationship, as well as the regional and multilateral institutions of which we are both a part.

Ambassador Tarragô, I commend you for nearly 40 years of public service. I share your desire to serve and hope for the opportunity to benefit from the lessons you have no doubt learned over your career. I understand that you were posted in Ottawa once before, and I trust that you will quickly feel at home here again.

Canada considers Brazil to be a key partner bilaterally, regionally and multilaterally. We look forward to working more closely together on important issues of mutual interest, such as ensuring security and prosperity, strengthening the multilateral system, and helping Haiti rebuild. People-to-people ties between Canada and Brazil are strong, diversified and growing. I am confident that these ties will enhance the dynamic nature of our relationship in the years to come. 

High Commissioner Dato Hayati, you must also be commended for your many years of public service. I was very interested to learn that the King of Malaysia visited McGill and Guelph universities last fall. I hope his visit was pleasant and productive. I share His Majesty’s strong commitment to education, and look forward to deepening academic collaboration between our two countries.

Canada deeply values our bilateral relationship. Malaysia has been a valued partner in addressing the problem of maritime human smuggling, and we applaud the steps that you have been taking to combat this serious issue. Our bilateral trading relationship is strong, and we are looking forward to deepening it even more. We would like to develop our bilateral investment partnerships as well. The closeness of our people-to-people ties will, undoubtedly, be critical in this regard.

Ambassador Al-Shafi, I am very pleased to meet you again. I sincerely enjoyed our first meeting, when I travelled to Qatar in late February. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate you on the recent birth of your son. I am sure you will agree that there is no greater challenge or reward than parenthood. 

I am proud to welcome you as Canada’s first resident Ambassador of the State of Qatar. My recent discussions with the Emir and with Sheikha Mozah convinced me that Canada can do more to enhance our bilateral relationship. The growing presence of Canadians in Qatar, and the reciprocal opening of our embassies later this spring, should go a long way to deepening our relationship. Similarly, the recent air agreement between our countries is certain to contribute to the ease with which our citizens can move between our countries.

So once again, I would like to warmly welcome each of you to Canada. It is my sincere honour to congratulate you on behalf of all Canadians. Sharon and I look forward to getting to know each of you better.

Thank you.