State Luncheon in Honour of His Excellency François Hollande, President of the French Republic
Banff, Alberta, Sunday, November 2, 2014
It is such a pleasure for me to have this opportunity to greet you and the members of your delegation. Yours is the first State visit of a French president to Canada in a quarter-century, and I am delighted to be part of the occasion.
And what more Canadian place to receive you than in Banff in the heart of the majestic Rocky Mountains?
The relationship between France and Canada is especially rich. We share such a long history and enjoy so many social, cultural, political and economic links. We share the fundamental values of democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law—by which I mean the constant, relentless pursuit of justice.
And of course, Canada and France share a wonderful bond in the French language, which gives our relationship a truly special and enduring character.
This bond unites us right across Canada, from communities like Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan to the province of Quebec to the city of Moncton, New Brunswick in the Maritimes.
Your visit to Canada will help us to renew and deepen our historic co-operation and to meet the challenges ahead. Even in an era of instant, global communications, there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings and personal gatherings such as this one.
You have also picked an opportune time to come to Canada. Our two countries are engaged in a wide variety of projects and activities, and our relationship is set to deepen.
Our people-to-people ties are strong, numerous and growing. We are involved in numerous business, academic, and cultural partnerships. We work together on a range of important international issues through shared membership in NATO, the G7 and the G20, the United Nations and La Francophonie.
The timing of your visit is also favourable with the recently-signed Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement promising to increase trade and co-operation between Canada and Europe. This is a time of significant opportunity for businesses in Canada, France and throughout the European Union.
France is Canada’s eight-largest commercial partner and a particularly important source of investment in science and technology. The people of Canada and of France are sharing knowledge, infrastructure and experiences, and we are working together to build dynamic, innovative economies for the 21st century.
Our ties are strong, but the challenges we face are many. We must avoid complacency. Through dialogue and a shared commitment to working and innovating together, I am certain we can strengthen our partnerships and create new avenues of prosperity.
I am delighted that you have brought with you such an impressive and diverse delegation of Parliamentarians, entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators to begin strengthening these collaborations throughout your visit to Canada.
This year marks a number of important anniversaries in our national calendars. Last June we observed the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy, and August brought the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.
I have just a few days ago returned from representing Canada at commemorative ceremonies in Poland, the Netherlands and Belgium, where we remembered the terrible cost in human lives of the First and Second World Wars.
Each war calls for our solemn remembrance and reflection. Each war reminds us that we must continue to work together to build a more fair, just and peaceful world.
Today, Canadians are eager to deepen our collaboration. I am certain you will be warmly welcomed everywhere you go here in Canada.
Our two countries have so much to gain as partners in learning, trade, innovation, science, technology and culture. I trust that your time here will highlight the breadth and richness of our ties, as well as our great potential to go further.
Now, let us raise a glass to the ties that bind our two countries in friendship.