The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Presentation of the 2016 Public Service Award of Excellence

Ottawa, Ontario, Thursday, October 20, 2016


I’d like to welcome all of you to this celebration of public service.

In my role as governor general, I’ve had the chance to work closely with federal public servants for six years now.

So I can say with certainty: people in my position cannot accomplish anything without your support and advice.

And that is true for Canada at large.

Canadians rely on your commitment to your job and your country.

Next year—in just a few short months—we’ll begin the celebrations for Canada’s 150th birthday. Some of you are already involved in planning for this special year. I hope that all of you will have the chance to take a step back and enjoy what will surely be a grand celebration.

Because, in a very real way, next year is an anniversary year for Canadian public servants as well.

The Fathers of Confederation can’t take all the credit for creating Canada! They sure didn’t do it alone.

There would be no Canada were it not for the work of your predecessors. All of you are heirs to a long tradition of nation building, one that we constantly strive to improve.

As the public service has evolved and grown over the years, we’ve seen outstanding public servants pour their talent and energy into the work of building Canada.

Today, you continue that work.

You are building Canada, and you are transforming our nation.

You are innovative and bold in your work. You are discovering new ways to use science and technology and to reach out to Canadians and the world. You are being creative in serving Canadians and improving our lives.

You’re taking a vision for the public service—begun long ago with responsible government and evolved into its most recent incarnation outlined in Blueprint 2020—and making that vision your own.

And Canada is proud to recognize your pursuit of excellence.

Throughout my mandate, I’ve had the privilege of honouring some of our finest public servants. I will continue to recognize what you do for us as I enter the last year of my mandate.

And I’d like to leave you with the following message:

You’re doing so many things right. The evidence is right in front of us—with all of you, the recipients of this award.

Keep going, and never become complacent.

There are always things we could be doing better. There are always things to improve.

You know this, and that’s where you can play a leadership role. Inspire others and mentor a new generation of public servants to follow in your footsteps. If we can do that, if we can always reach for excellence, then this country has a bright future indeed.

I’ve learned so much from you and your colleagues—about how to be an effective, compassionate, smart public servant. You’ve made me a better Canadian through your service, just as you make Canada better. I’m grateful to all of you, and I thank you on behalf of all Canadians.

Congratulations on this well-deserved honour.