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  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Presentation of the Vanier Medal

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Rideau Hall, Friday, March 18, 2011


Good morning and welcome to Rideau Hall for the presentation of the Vanier Medal for exceptional public service.

The Right Honourable Georges P. Vanier, one of my predecessors and the man in whose name we present this award, once said: “I know of no more noble occupation than service, and no higher calling than the service of the public.”

The 2010 recipient of the Vanier Medal, Mr. Bryan P. Davies, has had a varied career, working in both the private and public sectors, and in academia. He embodies Georges Vanier’s ideal of public service, as well as so much of what I have been talking about since my installation as governor general. He is committed to learning and to innovation, to volunteerism and to service, to the smart and caring nation.

All of the important things in life I have learned from my five daughters, each of whom is in the public service. When I became governor general—leaving behind the familiar university environment that I had entered at the age of 18—it was with the knowledge and anticipation that I would be following them into the “real world.”

Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of experiencing the amazing work being done by today’s public servants, more so since my installation. Looking around the room, for example, I am reminded that this morning’s presentation could not have taken place without the efforts of all those working here at Rideau Hall.

Canada has benefitted from a dedicated and selfless company of professional public servants over many decades. This legacy is one that is much admired by the rest of the world.

Across the country, at all levels of government, Canadians rely on the programs and information provided by public servants. They work on the front lines and behind the scenes, helping and supporting people in their daily lives, setting policy and encouraging excellence. But the public service must also ensure that it evolves with the changing needs of Canadians and with the ever-expanding complexity of the job—through such means as cutting-edge technology, and cross-departmental and cross-governmental collaboration.

The Institute of Public Administration of Canada, the organization that selects the recipient and presents the Vanier Medal each year, knows the value of public service and celebrates the very best that Canada has to offer. It inspires debate and tackles the tough questions.

And as we approach the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, more than ever, we must ask these questions: what can we do to provide the best service possible? How are we viewed by other Canadians? How can we reinforce Canadians’ sense of pride while engaging all citizens?

Bryan Davies understands these challenges and has been working throughout his career toward finding solutions. He has used his connections and his experience to bridge the gap between the private and public sectors. He knows that to achieve our goal of a smart and caring nation, we need to talk to each other, pool our resources and encourage one another to innovate. In short, we must present a united front in response to modern-day challenges.

Taken on its own, Mr. Davies’ dedication to public service is commendable. But combined with his volunteer work, he is inspiring. He knows the importance of giving back to the community.

He has helped so many Canadians, though they may not even be aware of it.

On this occasion, let us acknowledge the work that public servants do across Canada, in their jobs and in their communities; let us honour them for their hard work; and let us not take for granted what they do for us every day.

Mr. Davies, I want to congratulate you on receiving the Vanier Medal. You join a long list of outstanding public servants who have helped to shape and change Canada. I have no doubt that, as you continue to impact our public service, you will help us to define Canada for a very long time to come.

Thank you.