State Dinner in Honour of His Excellency Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic
Rideau Hall, Tuesday, June 27, 2017
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that we are gathering tonight on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
Mr. President, I’d like to welcome you and the entire Italian delegation to Rideau Hall and to Canada.
Today, you are here to encourage even more collaboration between our nations.
I look forward to continuing the conversation that began when I met with the Prime Minister of Italy two months ago.
Your visit comes during a particularly auspicious occasion.
This year is the 150th anniversary of Confederation in Canada, and Canadians everywhere will be celebrating this weekend.
We are also fortunate to mark with you the 70th anniversary of the establishment of our bilateral relations.
Although certainly our ties go back much further than that!
Look back to when Giovanni Caboto—or as we know him, John Cabot—visited the coast of North America in 1497.
In the centuries that followed, hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants came to Canada, helping to settle the West and to build our railways, cities and infrastructure.
Today, almost 1.5 million Canadians are of Italian descent—the 6th largest ethnic group in Canada.
And their contributions are numerous.
In business, science, innovation and culture, Italian-Canadians are making their mark. In fact, tomorrow evening, in this very room, I’ll be honouring singer-songwriter Michael Bublé, whose grandparents were Italian, with the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.
A great example of Italian-Canadian success and a great example of our diversity.
Here in Canada, as you do in Italy, we see diversity and inclusion as sources of strength: socially, culturally and economically.
Diversity and inclusiveness are critical to our prosperity in a thoroughly globalized, interconnected world.
Italy has also been a leader on this issue, playing a central humanitarian role in saving thousands of people crossing the Mediterranean in desperate search of a new home.
Like Canada, you recognize the importance of open societies, and we’ve been pleased to share our own experience with Italian communities.
This is but one issue on which we are working together. It is representative of how our common interests spark partnerships, which, in turn, have brought prosperity to both our countries.
In innovation and science, we are collaborating on areas such as the Arctic, marine science, life sciences, aerospace, and agriculture and agri-food.
And in trade, we have experienced significant growth. In 2013, for instance, we increased our trade by 36%, making Italy our 8th largest global merchandising trade partner. And in 2014, Canadian exports to Italy rose an astonishing 113%, which made Italy Canada’s 7th largest export market that year.
I expect this will only get better as we work toward the implementation of the Canada-EU Trade Agreement, of which Italy has been a strong supporter.
Together, we can build opportunity for generations to come. And I know we will continue to do so, particularly under your country’s leadership as president of the G7—a role Canada is proud to take on next year.
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 collaboration between the people of Italy and of Canada.