Presentation of Letters of Credence (Armenia, France, Latvia, Georgia, Korea, Angola)
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The Citadelle, Monday, September 19, 2011
My wife, Sharon, and I are delighted to welcome you to the Citadelle in the historic City of Québec.
This building has been an official viceregal residence since our country’s Confederation in 1867, and the history of this city goes back four centuries to the time of Samuel de Champlain—Canada’s first governor in all but name.
As governor general, I often draw insight from our past experiences. And in fact, Champlain was involved in one of Canada’s earliest and most significant acts of diplomacy, not far from here in nearby Tadoussac, on the shores of the St. Lawrence.
It was in Tadoussac in the spring of 1603 that Champlain and his French companions first met with members of the Montagnais, Algonquin and Etchemin First Nations, who had gathered for a large regional assembly, known as the Great Tabagie. This first encounter came about entirely by chance, but Champlain and the Aboriginal leaders seized the opportunity to meet and to establish good relations for mutual benefit.
As the historian David Fischer—Pulitzer Prize winner—wrote in his book Champlain’s Dream, this moment marked the beginning of an important alliance.
“[The European and First Nation leaders] treated each other with dignity, forbearance and respect. They began to build an atmosphere of trust that was fundamental to relations between Europeans and Indians. They also kept it growing. When trust grew strong, many things were possible.”
It is with this same sense of hope and optimism that I greet you today for this presentation of credentials. Despite all that is new in our rapidly changing world, building respect and trust is as vital to diplomacy today as it was in Champlain’s time.
Ambassador Yeganian, I am certain that your knowledge of the Americas will serve you well in Canada. I am particularly interested in talking with you about your university studies in history, and I look forward to learning more about the rich Armenian heritage that has existed for so many millennia.
Canada is pleased to count Armenia as an ally and partner in a growing number of spheres. Canadians and Armenians are proud of our positive trade and cultural relations, and we look forward to continuing the pursuit of shared goals through our common membership in multilateral fora, such as La Francophonie.
Ambassador Zeller, I trust that your time in Canada will be an interesting and stimulating chapter in your notable foreign-service career. Among other subjects, I look forward to discussing your report on international adoption, as well as our progress in encouraging youth mobility between Canada and France. I wish you and your family the very best as you set out to discover our wonderful country.
The City of Québec is indeed a wonderful place to begin, as it reminds us of the deep historical ties between Canada and the Republic of France. Today, our collaboration continues through mutual participation in organizations such as the G8, G20, NATO and La Francophonie. Together, our peoples are working hard to deepen the economic and cultural ties between our two nations, and to support democracy, health and stability in countries such as Libya, Haiti and Afghanistan.
Ambassador Audariņš, you and I share an interest in the arts and culture. As governor general, I am privileged to meet with and celebrate the work of many of Canada’s greatest artists, and I know that you and your family will likewise find much to appreciate in our vibrant Canadian culture.
For many years, the peoples of Latvia and of Canada have enjoyed a wonderful friendship. Our ties are reinforced by the dynamic Latvian-Canadian community, and renewed on a regular basis by our commitment to bilateral co-operation. Our growing trade links, our partnership in NATO and our work together in Afghanistan have all helped to cement this relationship. And Canada is pleased to congratulate you on the 20th anniversary of the restoration of Latvian independence this year.
Ambassador Metreveli, your work in politics, academia and the foreign service gives you a broad basis for success in this new posting. Having spent much of my life in a university setting prior to becoming governor general, I retain a strong interest in education and in public service. I look forward to discussing these matters with you.
The relationship between Canada and Georgia has been strengthened by our co-operation in the World Trade Organization and our mutual efforts to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. Canadians are supportive of your commitment to fostering trade and a market economy.
Ambassador Nam, you and I share similar academic experiences, as we both studied in the United Kingdom and at Harvard. I am confident that your expertise in international affairs and security will be of great use in your new posting, and I wish you and your family a smooth transition as you settle into your new lives in Ottawa.
I am delighted to note that the friendship between the Republic of Korea and Canada continues to grow. The links between the peoples of our two countries are very strong, with almost 200,000 Korean-Canadians living here, and some 20,000 Canadians living and working in your country. These ties, as well as our commitment to multilateralism, to trade and to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament are the basis of our friendship.
Ambassador Agostinho Tavares, you will most certainly find that your international experience as a career diplomat will serve you well in Canada. I understand that you have been in frequent contact with our honorary consul in Luanda in preparing for this posting, and I encourage you to continue to learn of all that this wonderful and diverse country has to offer.
The friendly relations between Canada and the Republic of Angola are well-established and poised to grow. I am encouraged to note our deepening trade links, and want to congratulate Angola for taking up the chairmanship of the Southern Africa Development Community. The potential for our two countries to strengthen our ties is great, and I look forward to further co-operation in future.
Allow me to close by congratulating each of you on your new postings, and wishing you the very best on behalf of all Canadians. Sharon and I look forward to getting to know each of you, and to working together towards a fairer, more just and peaceful world.