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Rideau Hall, Friday, May 27, 2011
My wife Sharon and I would like to welcome you to Rideau Hall this morning for the Order of Canada investiture ceremony and we congratulate you on your accomplishments. It is an honour to stand among such venerable Canadians.
You are leaders, innovators and givers. You have defined Canadian art, science, politics, sports, business and so much more. And because of this, because you have proven yourselves on the national and international stage, you are being invested into the Order of Canada, and joining others who have helped us to define what it means to be Canadian.
In 2017, our country will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. As we approach this milestone, I am encouraging Canadians to think about and discuss the country they desire. All of you here today, as members of the Order of Canada, have already thought of what our country can and should be. You have made meaningful contributions to the advancement of Canada in every respect. You continue to create a smarter, more caring world.
But we must ensure that we take this dialogue to a wider audience.
We must take it to our communities; we must involve Canadians of all ages and new Canadians. We must find a shared vision and work to achieve it. The 150th anniversary of our country will be a time of celebration, so the time leading up to this date should be one of reflection and action.
And I encourage you to share your ideas, with each other and with all Canadians. Because being a member of the Order of Canada is as much a responsibility as it is an honour.
Roy A. Megarry, former publisher of The Globe and Mail and an Officer of the Order of Canada, once said: “Canada, our Canada, is a country of spectacular beauty, of immense riches, of inspired people, of great accomplishments and even greater promise.”
The promise he spoke of—the potential of all Canadians—is realized every day in ways both big and small, but there is still plenty to do. And as you join the Order of Canada, you share the duty of inspiring Canadians to do their very best, to achieve great things and to make their dreams a reality.
The snowflake lapel pin—which I have worn proudly since my own induction in 1988 and which you are receiving today—is a symbol not only of your own accomplishments, but also the unique place you hold in this country and in its history.
And just like our country, all of you here today reflect diversity. You come from all across Canada, from different backgrounds and from various disciplines.
I find it particularly interesting that everyone gathered here today, while so different, shares common Canadian roots. Here we have authors and scientists speaking with actors and politicians. We have volunteers and philanthropists discovering new things about athletes and teachers. Just as Canada is lauded as a multicultural society, so, too, do I laud the Order of Canada’s uniqueness and its ability to bring people together.
Finally, I would like to add that 2017 will not only be the 150th anniversary of this country, but also the 50th anniversary of the Order of Canada. As we consider the country we desire, I would like you to ponder the role the Order of Canada can play in the future. What more can members do to motivate others? How can we encourage people to nominate deserving members of their community, those who would otherwise go unnoticed? How can we continue to inspire innovative thinking and positive change?
As you look back on your careers and your accomplishments, and as you look forward to realizing your vision of what this country can be in six years’ time, remember that you are part of something bigger than yourselves. You represent the very best of this country and it is your responsibility to take the dialogue that will shape Canada back to your communities.
Once again, I congratulate and thank all of you. I cannot wait to see where your lives, careers and ideas will take you next.