State Dinner hosted by His Excellency Truong Tan Sang, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, November 16, 2011
I would like to begin by thanking you for warmly welcoming me to your beautiful country.
Let me offer my sincere condolences for the loss of life that occurred during the recent flooding here in Vietnam. The thoughts of the Canadian people are with you as you work to rebuild lives and communities in the aftermath of the floods.
Thank you as well, President Sang, for your kind words. Our presence here together speaks volumes about our ties in the region; indeed, Canada looks forward to celebrating 40 years of diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 2013.
For Canada, working with partners around the world—like we do with Vietnam in such multilateral fora as ASEAN, APEC, the World Trade Organization and La Francophonie—is a way for us to grow our own society and to fulfil our responsibility as global citizens. A State visit such as this is an opportunity not only to highlight our successes together, but also to discuss ways in which we can further build on our fruitful dialogue.
In preparation for this visit, I discovered how well our two countries have worked with one another. I was also told of our expanding relations, and how our trade and investment are growing, and how our international development co-operation is flourishing.
I was proud to hear of the work of the Canadian International Development Agency in providing sustainable opportunities for the Vietnamese people to respond to development challenges through local innovations. The chance to use local skills, talents and resources to renew communities is a great model for allto follow.
I have visited so many communities in Canada that have used the resources on hand to reinvent themselves; I was excited to learn that this success was not limited to Canada.
The fact that there are several Canadian projects in Vietnam that have attained success and remained viable long after they were completed is wonderful to behold. It is a testament to our relationship, but more than that, it shows the commitment, desire and dedication of the Vietnamese people to build a better life for their families and a better country of which they can all be proud.
I will be seeing a few CIDA-supported projects during my time here, and I am looking forward to experiencing Canadian and Vietnamese collaborative ingenuity.
But the strength of our relationship runs deeper than governments and agencies. We could not have developed our bonds without the vibrant people-to-people ties that we enjoy.
Canada is home to 250 000 people of Vietnamese origin, who every day add their distinctiveness to our own society. I was also delighted to learn that others have returned from Canada to Vietnam to use their international experience to help build the economy in robust ways.
But to me, one of the strongest indicators of our bond is the collaboration between our countries’ universities and businesses, as well as the students who come to Canada to study.
One of the pillars of my mandate as governor general is strengthening education and innovation. And so, I am pleased that I will be able to see first-hand how Vietnam has dedicated itself towards providing a quality education experience, as well as how your businesses have innovated to become industry leaders.
In 2010, 1000 Vietnamese students obtained permits to study in Canada, a 400% increase over 2007. I have always espoused the importance of an education that takes students outside their own country, to gain a wider outlook, which is so important in our increasingly globalized world.
We often refer to diplomacy between countries, trying to find common ground for partnerships. What our young people are doing is enriching our diplomacy of knowledge. These exchanges of ideas and experiences, which are not limited by borders, enhance our relationship.
I have spoken about our collaboration, which is so important for ongoing understanding between countries.
That is why I am so pleased that I have not come here alone. The delegation that travelled with me represents a wide swath of Canadian education, arts and business. I urge all of you, Vietnamese and Canadian alike, to talk with one another and to be open to new ways of thinking and partnering.
Collaboration, after all, begins with two people having a conversation. Who knows what the result of that will be? When people ask, “Why do State visits matter?”, this is why.
One of my predecessors, Lord Byng, once said: “Be as big, with minds as large and souls as great as the land in which you live.” Let us all take this to heart.
We have been partners in the past and we are accomplishing so much today. Let us show the world that we are capable of so much more in the future.
I would like you to join me in raising our glasses to our friendship, to our partnership, and to the bright future of Vietnam and Canada.