Discussion with Leaders of the Business Community (Mexico)
Mexico City, Mexico, Sunday, December 2, 2012
Sharon and I are thrilled to be in Mexico and to have this chance to meet all of you. We are in Mexico to represent Canada at the inauguration of the new president of the United Mexican States, His Excellency Enrique Peña Nieto.
The festivities yesterday to usher in President Peña Nieto were magnificent. We are happy and honoured that we were able to be present at the celebration, and to show Canada’s support for the new administration and for the peaceful transition of democratic rule—an achievement that no one in either of our countries should ever discount or take for granted.
Democracy and peace are two of the bedrock values that the people of our countries share. These principles—along with justice, fairness and equality—unite Mexicans and Canadians, fortifying us to tackle any shared challenge with confidence and resolve.
In fact, one of my daughters—I’m lucky enough to have five—is a lawyer with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, where as part of Canada’s Strengthening of Prosecutions in Mexico Project she trained prosecutors.
The work my daughter is doing is an excellent example of the diplomacy of knowledge , which is the willingness and ability to work together—across disciplines and across borders—to uncover, share and refine knowledge to improve the human condition.
You—the men and women in this room—practise the diplomacy of knowledge, although you may not call it that. Yet you all carry it out—whether you’re Mexicans who work for Canadian companies or Canadians who care deeply about strengthening ties with Mexico and its people. Your presence here proves it. You’re here to share, learn and enhance the tools we all use to innovate, trade and work together.
I’m pleased to see so many Canadians business people here, as well as their Mexican counterparts in a variety of industries. It speaks to how well we can, and do, work together. Yet, there is still so much more we can accomplish.
Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Perrin Beatty and distinguished former Mexican diplomat Andres Rozenthal point out in a timely report that most Canadians and Mexicans still hold largely stereotypical images of each other, and that their one-dimensional views hinder us from taking our conventional bilateral relationship and building it into a true strategic partnership.
This finding convinces me that your individual actions as men and women cannot be undervalued. Because countries don’t trade, innovate, collaborate, or share knowledge and wisdom. People do. And they do it one relationship at a time.
And so, I ask you—challenge you—to make your ongoing practise of the diplomacy of knowledge fully conscious, deliberate and personal.
Put your mutual ambitions and diverse talents to maximum use. Unleash the power of the diplomacy of knowledge. Uncover ways for men and women from our two countries to meet, share, trade, work and learn together.
And let us ask ourselves: What can we do to provide opportunities for young Canadians not only to learn Spanish but also to immerse themselves in the lives of Mexicans and the culture of Mexico?
How can we better do business? What can we do to deepen understanding between our peoples through avenues outside business such as teaching, learning, research, culture and sports?
Think deeply about these questions and in doing so embrace the challenge I’ve put before you: Be more than businesspeople. Be supreme knowledge diplomats who leverage the values and aspirations that our peoples share to deepen and expand relations between them—for the betterment of our two countries and indeed the world.