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Investiture Ceremony for the Order of Merit of the Police Forces
Rideau Hall, Wednesday, May 26, 2010
It gives me great pleasure today to recognize the exceptional merit and commitment of 30 members of the Canadian Police Forces at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.
As Governor General of Canada and Chancellor of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, I am acutely aware of the vital role played by those who tirelessly work to ensure our security and protect the freedom we enjoy here in Canada.
There can be no freedom and justice cannot exist if there is no security.
That is one of the lessons life taught me at a very young age, as I grew up under the yoke of a merciless dictatorship.
To not be afraid of being attacked, raped or even killed at any time, at home or on the street.
To have the opportunity to say what we think and to act without fear of reprisal.
To have access to efficient and transparent justice.
To be able to receive help if we are in distress.
For most of us, all of this goes without saying.
But—we must remember—this is certainly not the case for most people around the world.
The abundant security and freedom we enjoy in Canada are intimately related to confidence we have in the women and men who help maintain order and peace.
We know that, each and every day, we can count on police officers, who protect our most vulnerable citizens, develop positive relationships with the communities in which they work, and encourage the public—especially our children and young people—to make responsible life choices.
We also know that this is not an easy task and that it comes with risks.
And we recognize that it has evolved greatly over time.
In addition to being public and peace officers, you are sometimes called upon to play the role of community workers, psychologists, teachers, mediators, first responders in emergency situations, and more.
And you must continually show flexibility, creativity and clear-sightedness as challenges become more and more complex, or take on international proportions.
Consider, for example, the extent to which ethnocultural and racial diversity in our communities—especially in large cities—requires police services across the country to show openness, to look beyond assumptions and prejudices and to take new approaches.
You are increasingly facing the challenge of establishing productive relationships with the diversified communities in which you work and of taking this diversity into account in your actions and decisions. There again, the bond of trust is essential.
Moreover, because crime and its ramifications are reaching global proportions, you must learn how to collaborate with police forces of all kinds and from every corner of the world.
Police services in Canada are adapting to these new realities and remain, still today, a model of excellence.
The work you and your colleagues are accomplishing to help train and democratize police services in other countries is one example. This contributes to Canada’s image, and our country has become, for nations all around the world, a symbol of hope, stability and democracy.
And it is because you have lived up to the trust we have in you and performed your duty in an exemplary manner—going above and beyond what was expected of you—that you are being invested today into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces.
Your fellow citizens recognize the importance of your role and hold you in the highest esteem.
On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do for our well being.