Presentation of the 2010 Pearson Peace Medal

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Rideau Hall, Friday, January 21, 2011


It is a pleasure to welcome you to Rideau Hall for the 26th presentation of the Pearson Peace Medal, created by the United Nations Association in Canada. 

My predecessor, Edward Schreyer, first presented this prestigious medal to a deserving Canadian more than three decades ago. It is worth noting that Dr. Ernie Regehr, whom we honour today, has for all these years and more been busy, serving the cause of peace.  

In the words of one of his nominators, “The time has come to honour a man who has made the cause of peace his life’s work, and has accomplished more than could have been imagined some quarter of a century ago.”

Today, we recognize a lifetime in the service of peace, disarmament and dialogue. Dr. Regehr, you are a worthy heir to Lester Pearson, and to the remarkable Canadians who have preceded you in receiving this medal.

As the ongoing need for this award tells us, peace is never a once-and-for-all achievement. Instead, human security and stability are earned and renewed, or eroded, on a daily basis. In your own diligent, dedicated peace-building work, you personify this approach. Day after day, you have called for dialogue, co-operation and understanding.

The results have been transformative.

Since co-founding Project Ploughshares three decades ago during the Cold War, you have helped to move the idea of a freeze on nuclear weapons from the margins to the mainstream.

You have also campaigned for greater control and regulation of the small arms trade, which fuels so many conflicts within nations today.

A true citizen diplomat, you have represented Canada abroad, worked for peace in Africa, and led calls for a peaceful resolution to the current conflict in Afghanistan.  

Your concern for global security has even reached into orbit, through your efforts to secure outer space for peaceful purposes.

Those who devote their lives to advancing global security know that there can be no peace without justice, and freedom from fear. You exemplify this approach, choosing co-operation, not confrontation, in the face of difficult problems.

Since my installation as governor general, I have been inviting Canadians to join me in imagining our country as it could be. We strive for a smart and caring nation, which increases and applies the knowledge of its citizens to improve the condition of all—at home and around the world.

Through your insistence on our collective responsibility to work towards international peace and security, you have answered the call to service.

You embody the qualities of a smart and caring nation. You are a leader in Canadian civil society, as well as a mentor and inspiration to many young people who seek a more just, peaceful world. The youth of this country have so much to offer, and I am delighted to welcome a number of young people to Rideau Hall today to witness the presentation of this award.

I know they will agree that our new laureate offers proof of the meaningful role we can play on the international stage.

Dr. Regehr, you represent our very best. As patron of the United Nations Association in Canada, and on behalf of all Canadians, I am honoured to present you with the Pearson Peace Medal.

Thank you.