State Luncheon in Honour of Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, President of the Republic of Chile
Rideau Hall, Monday, June 5, 2017
I acknowledge that we are gathering today on the traditional territory of the Algonquin peoples.
Excellency, it’s an honour and a great pleasure for my wife, Sharon and me to welcome you and the members of the Chilean delegation to Rideau Hall and to Canada.
It is wonderful to see you again, President Bachelet.
The last time we met was in Santiago, where you hosted us for a memorable luncheon at the spectacular Palacio de La Moneda.
Also in Santiago, I had the privilege of receiving the key to the city, and being bestowed the title “Illustrious Guest” by the Mayor!
We’re so pleased to have this opportunity to return the hospitality of Chile and its people, and to welcome all of you as illustrious guests to Canada.
Your timing is very good! June is one of the most pleasant months of the year in this part of the country, and we’re busily preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in less than a month’s time.
So this is a time of celebration, and we’re glad to welcome such a good friend of Canada.
The friendship between our two countries rests upon a strong foundation. Chile is one of Canada’s closest partners in the Americas. It’s a partnership Canadians value highly.
We have much in common and much to celebrate, including more than 75 years of diplomatic ties and a free trade agreement that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year! Canada and Chile have become much closer since the free trade agreement.
Our exports to Chile have increased threefold and Canadian companies represent the third largest group of investors in Chile. Our people-to-people ties have also grown considerably through student exchanges and two-way tourist flows.
Together, we share commitments to openness, to democratic principles, to peace, security and the protection of human rights and vulnerable populations, particularly women, youth and Indigenous peoples.
Our two countries collaborate closely in many other spheres. They include trade, investment, defence, energy, mining and education, as well as science, technology and innovation.
Canada also looks forward to increased exchange with Chile in disaster response and emergency management, migration and refugees, the environment, climate change and national parks.
President Bachelet, the breadth of this list indicates the critical importance of the Canada-Chile strategic partnership. Your visit to Canada renews our ties and contributes greatly to the development of our co-operation.
Canada welcomes your visit’s focus on freedoms, diversity and inclusiveness. These themes correspond closely with Canada’s priorities.
Here in Canada, we also see diversity and inclusion as sources of strength: socially, economically and culturally. A clear reflection of this is the vibrant community of Chileans in Canada, many of whom came here in a different era as refugees.
Diversity and inclusiveness are critical to our prosperity in a thoroughly globalized, interconnected world. That includes gender inclusiveness, an area in which you demonstrate great leadership as an example and an advocate.
As the parents of five daughters, Sharon and I have some understanding of gender equity issues, and we are grateful for your efforts on behalf of women around the world.
Please accept our sincere thanks to you and to the members of your delegation for visiting Canada, and for your attention to the important relationship between our two countries.
I wish you a very productive and inspiring visit.
I would now like to raise a glass to the continued friendship and expanding partnership between the people of Chile and of Canada.