The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ 34th Memorial Service

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Ottawa, Sunday, September 25, 2011


I am honoured to be here to pay homage to the fallen on Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial Day.

As a Canadian, and as governor general, I know just how fortunate we are to live in a country where the security and rights of every individual are enshrined in our Constitution.

But the defence of these rights requires vigilance and, occasionally, a protective intervention. By ensuring our safety, at times risking your own lives to do so, the members of the extended law enforcement family are helping to maintain harmony in our communities and contributing to Canada’s enviable reputation as a peaceful nation.

We must never forget the vital role that you play in our communities every day. And those whose lives you have touched directly will forever hold in their hearts the memory of how you answered the call of duty.

I recall a photo that was shown to me during my recent visit to Saskatchewan that illustrates your dedication perfectly.

The photo depicted an emerging situation at a school. Students and teachers were streaming out of the building, but one figure was going against the tide, heading with purpose towards the danger. This man was a police officer.

To you, the idea of service—to people, to the community, and to our country—is second nature.

Each year, we gather to remember those we have lost and have the regrettable task of adding new names to the Honour Roll, some historical, and others, sadly, more recent.

Constable Garrett Styles of  York Regional Police. Constable Sébastien Coghlan-Goyette of Sûreté du Québec. Constable Michael Potvin of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Sergeant Ryan Russell of the Toronto Police. These four officers, who were killed in the line of duty this year, are examples of courage. We mourn and we grieve with their friends and family.

Indeed, I would like to pay tribute to all of the men and women in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe throughout our history; to the colleagues of those who have fallen who, despite the threat, continue to show courage and valour in the face of danger; and especially to the families whose lives have been turned upside down at the loss of a loved one.

We simply cannot quantify the magnitude of their sacrifices, but today, this ceremony reminds us of how much we owe them.

I have the greatest respect for each and every one of them and for all of you. On behalf of all Canadians, I am grateful for all that you have done for this country.

Thank you.