No. 2010/48 - London, England - June 30, 2010
Check Against Delivery
One of the things I like the most about the British is the thoughtfulness they always show to their former colonies.
I was especially touched, for example, that you would hold this event at the home of the Royal College of Physicians—no doubt to protect me against any nasty manifestations of jet lag!
I am here, however, to mark a happy event.
Tomorrow Canada will be celebrating its 143rd birthday.
And it is entirely fitting that Canadians would celebrate this anniversary in the company of British friends.
The links of friendship and partnership between Canada and the United Kingdom are so numerous they are almost impossible to measure.
Like most friends, we do not have the same birthdate, but we have much in common.
Many of our institutions and traditions are inspired by yours.
As well, we belong to the same clubs: the G-8 and G-20, of course, but also the Commonwealth, the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Trade Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Canada and the United Kingdom are working together in Afghanistan, and in international development in Africa, as well as in security, with intensive military, law enforcement and intelligence cooperation.
Our two nations also do a lot of business together—the United Kingdom is by far Canada’s most important commercial partner in Europe and, from a global perspective, ranks second only to the United States.
Through thick and thin, in war or in peace, our countries stand together.
The stability of our friendship can be illustrated, I think, by a quotation from your great prime minister Sir Winston Churchill: on his second visit to Niagara Falls, in 1943, Churchill was asked by an enterprising journalist—they existed even then—whether he found anything different from his first visit, 14 years earlier. Churchill, it was reported, while gazing at the Falls, replied, “The basic principle seems to be the same.”
And so it is between Canada and Great Britain: the basic principle seems to be the same.
This was confirmed last week by Prime Minister [David] Cameron who wrote in one of Canada’s dailies:
“…While I’m the new kid on the block, I know I have an old friend in Stephen Harper. Britain, too, has a great friend in Canada. Beyond the historical ties, our relationship thrives today on shared values and a faith in free institutions, free markets and free societies.”
Great Britain, with France, is one of our two mother countries, and we are very proud of this heritage of two great civilizations.
Our history and our bilingual and multicultural nature also allow us to play a leading role within the two great families of the Commonwealth and La Francophone.
Just before coming here, I enjoyed the hospitality of Foreign Secretary [William] Hague, whom I had also met on June 3, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Prime Minister Cameron.
Secretary Hague and I explored many areas where our two countries might move their relationship and their collaboration forward.
One of these would be in making the Commonwealth a more dynamic, more pertinent and more influential organization in world affairs.
This is Canada’s international year.
In addition to the [Vancouver 2010] Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, held last February, we have just hosted successful G-8 and G-20 summits.
As Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, I therefore thought it appropriate that I offer you a detailed and extensive tour d’horizon of the major international challenges facing the world.
It usually runs to about an hour…
On second thought, this might not be the time for long speeches—if there is ever such a time.
I simply want to tell you that there will always be a special place in the heart of Canadians for the United Kingdom and the British.
Thank you very much for having joined me here tonight, and I hope you enjoy Canada Day tomorrow.
We have a lot to celebrate together.