Ceremony to Mark the Completion of Operation MOBILE in Libya
Ottawa, Thursday, November 24, 2011
It is an honour to be here today to mark the end of Canada’s mission in Libya, and to pay tribute to those who have answered the call to service.
As governor general and commander-in-chief of Canada, I regularly have the privilege of meeting with the men and women of the Canadian Forces. And several times a year, I recognize outstanding service by conferring honours, medals and decorations upon those who have truly excelled in their duties.
On these occasions, I sometimes quote my predecessor, General Georges P. Vanier, who once said:
“The overpowering strength of a free people is the readiness voluntarily to defend not merely themselves, not only their allies, but the very democratic principles they cherish.”
The Canadian Forces members who served in Libya did so in defence of our cherished democratic principles. You stood in solidarity with the Libyan people, providing security in their quest for self-determination, and supporting their demands for fundamental rights and freedoms.
Your actions allowed Libyans to overcome injustice after so many years of hardship and repression.
As commander-in-chief, I often speak to Canadian Forces members of their responsibility as role models, both here in Canada and internationally. I tell them that their commitment to duty, honour, and service is a reinforcement of the values we hold dear and a reflection of the best of Canada.
In Libya, you served with distinction at all levels, bringing great credit to the Canadian Forces and to Canada.
Today, the people of Libya face a new challenge in rebuilding their country. For an image of the devastation wrought by war we can look to the painting by Sir George Clausen that hangs here in the Senate. Painted in 1919, it is called Returning to the Reconquered Land, and it depicts the return of ordinary people to a shattered Europe after the First World War.
Shattered, but free to build a brighter future.
Thanks to your efforts in concert with the international community, Libyans can begin to imagine a future free of fear and suffering.
On behalf of all Canadians, I thank you for your service in this mission. Together, you embody our commitment to international law, to the rights and freedoms we cherish in a democratic society, and to the personal values of duty, honour, and service.