Presentation of the Vanier Medal

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Presentation of the Vanier Medal to Dr. Gordon Smith

Rideau Hall, Thursday, May 13, 2010

I would first like to welcome you, Dr. Gordon Smith, to Rideau Hall. We have gathered here today to recognize your exceptional contribution to public administration and your exemplary leadership.

I would also like to welcome your loved ones, your colleagues, representatives from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada and all those who have come here to celebrate your accomplishments.

Like my predecessor, the Right Honourable Georges Vanier, who inspired the creation of the Medal being presented today, Dr. Smith, you had a productive career as a diplomat, and just like him, you are a prolific author.

But more than that, throughout your entire life, you have put your expertise and skills to use for the public good, whether in high level positions in Canada and abroad, or at the Centre for Global Studies—where you currently work—or in your writing, which contributes to Canada’s reflection on international issues, in a world of unprecedented openness and at a time when current debates extend far beyond our borders.

To quote the great man, former soldier and Governor General Georges Vanier, “I know of no more noble occupation than service, and no higher calling than the service of the public. It is above else, not a business. Its inspiration and cause have nothing to do with the making of money.”

Public affairs have nothing to do with profits.

But they have everything to do with the collective interest, everything to do with the values we share in this country.

These are fundamental values that define who we are, what we aspire to, what we need to accomplish. Values that safeguard employees in public administration who implement the policies, programs and services that reflect these values.

Dr. Smith, you have worked for the common good your entire life and I am delighted that Canada can count on someone like you to guide our nation in these times when interdependency is the watchword and requires a joint, global approach.

Thank you for serving with heart, for serving with vision, creativity and integrity, and for being an example to all those following in your footsteps.

My sincerest congratulations to you, Dr. Smith, and to the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, which works tirelessly in the country’s best interest to promote excellence.