Presentation of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces
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Rideau Hall, Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Good morning and welcome to Canada’s home: Rideau Hall. It is an honour for me today to invest you into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces and to celebrate 10 years of honouring members of police services across Canada.
Canadian police are mainstays in our communities and have been since the 1800s, with the creation of both the Dominion Police and the North-West Mounted Police. Necessity bred these forces, and others across the country, but it is the support, hard work and dedication of the members of Canada’s police forces, like yourselves, that have maintained the efficiency and the effectiveness of these forces throughout our history.
And while crime prevention and crime-fighting techniques have certainly evolved, you still have one thing in common with your counterparts from over 150 years ago: the idea of service.
In an address to the Empire Club of Canada in 1973, then-commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police W. L. Higgitt spoke on the importance of service. He was referring to the RCMP, but I believe his words apply to all levels of policing. He said that “service has been our hallmark throughout our existence, service not only in our jobs as policemen, but also in our role as members of the community in which we live and work.”
All of you here today understand service and know the importance of what you do. Police across the country have served their communities for years, establishing trust and earning the respect of all Canadians. The distinction with which you serve is a model for other police services around the world. You go beyond the call of duty in situations that require you to do so, going the extra mile for the public good.
But it is in your neighbourhoods that the real grassroots work is done. You are constantly reaching out to people and preventing crime before it happens.
You act as community ambassadors, mediate disputes, make us feel safe in our homes and are there when we need you.
I would especially like to commend the work you do with our country’s youth. I have made supporting families and children one of the pillars of my mandate as governor general, and police do so much in this regard.
For the past 10 years, the Order of Merit of the Police Forces has honoured those who have shown leadership and displayed exceptional service or distinctive merit with Canadian police forces. Those of you here today have maintained order and saved lives. The discipline and loyalty you have shown to your police service, to your community and to Canada are exceptional. For these reasons and more, you are being invested into the Order, alongside others in the past decade who have made this country a safer place to be.
You are leaders in your community, and I urge all of you to continue not only to protect your fellow citizens, but also to promote a dialogue in our cities and towns that will lead us towards the smarter, more caring nation we seek, which resides in each of us.
Our police officers are in a very unique position. They see many very difficult situations in this country, but are able to see the very best as well. Through it all, through the discouraging days and the joyous days, they remain faithful to the ideal of service, which attracted them in the first place.
As we celebrate your accomplishments and your contributions, I hope that you will take away a renewed sense of pride in your work and in what you do for Canada.
Congratulations to you all.