Presentation of Letters of Credence (Niger, United Arab Emirates, Korea, Nigeria, Lithuania, South Africa, Finland, Germany, Bangladesh)
Rideau Hall, Thursday, September 13, 2012
It is a pleasure to welcome you to Rideau Hall, home of the people of Canada, today for this presentation of credentials. Bienvenue à Rideau Hall!
One of the great privileges of the position I hold is being able to meet foreign heads of mission upon their arrival in Canada.
As governor general, I have great respect for the profession of diplomacy, which is so essential in our globalized world. And today especially we are conscious of the personal risk.
Here at Rideau Hall, we are fortunate to have a wonderful image of diplomacy growing in our front yard—quite literally. I am talking about the many ceremonial trees that stand throughout the grounds, which you can’t have missed on your way in today.
Those trees are part of a long tradition of ceremonial plantings at Rideau Hall, in which visiting heads of state and other foreign dignitaries are invited to plant a tree. The tree becomes a living symbol of friendship between Canada and the country they represent—a friendship to be nurtured and cherished.
As you can see from the abundance of trees on the grounds—120 of which are ceremonial—Canada has many friends in the world, and I am pleased to welcome each of you to our country in this spirit of international friendship and co-operation.
One of my favourite quotes from Proverbs is: “Blessed is the person who plants a tree knowing he will not be there to enjoy its shade.”
Ambassador Sidibé, I warmly welcome you to Canada from your home country of Niger. You and I share a number of things in common: we both have extensive backgrounds in education, and we both have five children! As governor general, I have placed learning and the well-being of families and children among my priorities, and I look forward to speaking with you on these and other issues. I wish you and your family a wonderful stay in Canada.
Ambassador AlShehhi, your long experience as a career diplomat has no doubt prepared you well for this new responsibility as head of mission for the United Arab Emirates in Canada. I am also certain that your ability to speak both French and English will be very useful to you, as well as enhance your appreciation and knowledge of our bilingual country. Allow me to wish your family the very best as you settle into your new home and surroundings.
Ambassador Cho, I am glad to welcome you to Canada for this latest posting in your long and varied career serving the Republic of Korea. You and I share academic experience in the universities of our respective countries, and I particularly look forward to hearing of your considerable diplomatic experience in Asia. I wish you and your wife a smooth transition to life and work in Canada.
High Commissioner Maduekwe, I am pleased to welcome you back to Ottawa following your previous visits on behalf of the Nigerian government in 2009. You and I share a background in law, and I hope to hear more about your diverse experiences. I trust you will find much to interest and engage you during your posting in Canada.
Ambassador Žalys, being from the northern nation of Lithuania, I am certain you will have no trouble adjusting to life—and winter—in Canada. I note your long experience as a diplomat, lecturer and editor of the Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review, and look forward to speaking with you on issues facing our two countries. Please accept my best wishes for your time in Canada.
High Commissioner Mdladlana, as you are from South Africa, I hope that you do not have too much trouble adjusting to winter in Canada! I see that we share a background in education, and I was delighted to learn that two of your children will be attending university here. I trust you and your children will find your time in Canada enlightening and productive, and I hope to speak with you soon in greater depth about our two countries.
Ambassador Murto, I am pleased that you are continuing your diplomatic service with this posting in Canada. I know that you have visited our country once before, and that you have a particular interest in travelling across this land in view of Finland and Canada’s shared status as northern nations. As governor general, I am privileged to visit communities regularly throughout Canada, and look forward to comparing notes with you.
Ambassador Wnendt, it is a pleasure to welcome you to Rideau Hall so soon after the visit of Chancellor Merkel. Just a few weeks ago, we had the German flag flying at the main entrance! I am certain your many years of diplomatic work in Europe, North America and Asia will serve you well here in Canada. I also trust you will find no shortage of natural wonders in this vast country of ours in which to indulge your personal interest in geology.
High Commissioner Ahsan, I am delighted to extend warm greetings to you on this occasion. I have no doubt you will find your posting in Canada an interesting and productive experience. I note your previous experience as the Bangladesh’s high commissioner to Singapore, a country I visited one year ago in my capacity as governor general. I look forward to hearing your impressions of this and other experiences in your long and varied career. I wish you well with your new responsibilities in Canada.
In closing, allow me to again say what a privilege it is to welcome so many new faces to the world of diplomacy in Canada. I know you will find Canadians to be a warm, welcoming and diverse people, full of curiosity about your respective countries and cultures.
Together, let us reach out and initiate dialogue between our respective peoples, and work towards the smarter, more caring world of which we all dream.