The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Presentation of Letters of Credence (Gabon, Cyprus, Iraq, Mauritius, Botswana, Kyrgyz Republic)

Rideau Hall, Tuesday, March 22, 2016


I’d like to take a moment to honour the memories of those who lost their lives after this morning’s brutal attacks in Brussels. My thoughts also go out to all those who were wounded and to the families of the victims. 

I’d like to welcome all of you to Rideau Hall.

The diplomatic community in Canada is a unique corps of individuals from countries around the world. They share a desire to engage with Canada on a variety of topics. And though we may not always see eye to eye on every issue, we always find a way to work together for the benefit of all our peoples.

I’m pleased all of you will be joining this corps today.

Ambassador Ngokila, as a career diplomat, you’ve seen many instances of countries coming together and finding new ways to collaborate. I was particularly interested to hear that you’ve been actively promoting your culture and your people’s art during your postings. I think you’ll find Canadians curious to learn more about Gabon and about your expressions of creativity. I certainly hope you will share this with us during your time here.

Canada and Gabon have many areas in which we can work more closely together. For example, I’m impressed with your country’s commitment to our environment, and I’m grateful to your country for being a great leader in this area. I know you will find like-minded Canadians eager to discuss this vital issue. Canada looks forward to expanding on our ties as you assume your new role.

High Commissioner Anastasiades, you’ve presented credentials at Rideau Hall before, in 2011. Since you were the high commissioner, but not residing in Canada at the time, I said that I hoped you would come to this country often. A few years later, and here you are again! This time, however, we’re pleased that you will be living here, overseeing the recently opened high commission in Ottawa. What a wonderful sign of our strengthening relationship!

The opening of the high commission will further grow our relationship. Our commercial ties, for example, are modest, but there are many new investment opportunities yet to be discovered. I hope that Canada and Cyprus will continue our productive dialogue on peace, security and prosperity that will be strengthened by our people-to-people links and your diplomatic presence in Canada.

Ambassador Kaab, it’s wonderful to welcome to Canada a man of principle who has represented his nation in a number of different ways. Your time as a civil engineer in Iraq and in countries around the world has given you an insight into how to build great relationships and the importance of creating a solid basis for discussion. We hope that your stay in Canada will be a great way to further educate us on the history of Iraq and the culture of your people.

Iraq and Canada have historically been great friends and partners. That still proves true today, as we work together to build a better future for Iraqis and the region. Canada recognizes that Iraq’s current security situation, particularly in the north and west, requires our countries to unite in common cause. We look forward to engaging with Iraq and to finding a way to end conflict and to promote peace and prosperity.

High Commissioner Phokeer, I’m pleased to note that your interests are varied, from education to the law, to the economy, to health care. I’m also delighted to welcome you as a fellow educator. We share a love of and dedication to learning, and I look forward to hearing about your educational system. Your career as a teacher will serve you well in Canada, as you will find so many Canadians willing to learn about Mauritius.

In fact, our dedication to education is but one of many things that our countries share, and I’m proud that 600 Mauritians are studying in Canada. Our people-to-people ties are also enhanced by the 25 000 Mauritians who live and work in Canada. With our shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as multilingual and diverse societies, we’re poised to do more together, for our countries and for the world. I hope that you take time to travel across this country and speak with our people.

High Commissioner Newman, I’m pleased to see you here today, as you and I share a common love of the law. You have served on both sides of the bench, as a lawyer and judge, giving you a unique perspective on your country’s legal system. You’ve also taken every opportunity to pass on your knowledge, which is quite admirable. I look forward to speaking with you about our shared dedication to the rule of law.

Botswana and Canada take a common approach in many areas, from human rights to democracy. I remember with fondness my visit to Botswana in 2013, which is why I’m pleased that your arrival will give our two countries a chance to enhance our partnerships. Growth in trade, investment, defence, security, education, science and technology are just some of the examples where there is much potential. I look forward to speaking with you about our future outlook.

Ambassador Toktogulov, your career has taken you around the world as a journalist, covering stories that impact our world. You then went back to the Kyrgyz Republic to serve, shaping how your country communicates with your people and with other countries. As such, you hold a unique perspective on the relationships we forge between nations, and your presence is a great opportunity to further enrich our ties.

The Kyrgyz Republic and Canada share a commitment to democracy as well as a small, but robust, economic relationship. I commend your country’s dedication to making this world a better place, particularly through your recent election as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2016 term. Canada looks forward to engaging with your country more fully on this issue and on issues related to education, building on the recent partnership between Seneca College and the University of Central Asia. 

To everyone here, I would like to welcome you once again to Canada. I wish you the very best in your new posting.

Thank you.