September 26, 2017

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Canada Day 2017

From left to right: Canada’s candidate for the ICC, Ms. Kim Prost, Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and H.E. Ambassador Sabine Nölke. Picture taken by Jose Valencia.

 

By Roy Lie A Tjam.

Canada, a vast and diverse country, an Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Nation.

July 1, 2017, marks a special moment in the history of Canada. 150 years ago, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, united to create the Canadian Confederation – the Dominion of Canada. Later on, the other provinces and territories joined the Dominion. Today, Canada is part of the British Commonwealth of Nations with H.M. Queen Elisabeth as its Head of State.

The 150th anniversary of Canada was celebrated at the Official Residence of Canada – Villa Groot Haesebroek in the Netherlands. The rain could not stop the party. The guests remained with their host H.E.  Ambassador Sabine Nölke.

Ambassador Nölke delivered a captivating welcome address, it was as if she took her audience on enlightening excursions through her beloved Canada and also showed details of the party’s program. In part, this is what Ambassador Nölke said.

“Thank you very much for your presence here today, at Canada’s home in the Netherlands.

Je vous remercie de votre présence aujourd’hui à la maison du Canada aux Pays-Bas.

Ik dank u allen voor uw aanwezigheid vandaag, in het huis van Canada in Nederland.

As you will have realized by now – I’m sure the banner gave it away – this is a very special year for Canada. It was 150 years ago – in 1867 – that our country was founded. In best Canadian fashion, with a legal document that looks bland and boring on its face, but served to bring some very diverse communities together by sorting out their rights and responsibilities.

Of course, the history of the land upon which our country is built did not begin 150 years ago; nor did it start with the arrival of European explorers in the sixteenth century.

Canada 150 Cake made of cupcakes. Picture taken by Gaetan Garneau.

Canada’s First Nations have been living in the country that we now call Canada for thousands of years, but our past as a country has not acknowledged that fact very well, and our relationship with our indigenous peoples has been far from perfect. A key element of our celebrations this year therefore includes reflection – reflection on that past, and on the steps that are necessary to ensure that the next 150 years will bring greater success.

In many places across our country, public ceremonies and celebrations now start with an acknowledgement of the aboriginal peoples on whose traditional territories they take place. I cannot honour that new and beautiful custom here, but it is in that spirit that I would like to acknowledge our host country, the Netherlands and the close relationship between our two nations, of which this house and these grounds are an enduring symbol. We could not wish for a deeper friendship, or a more reliable partner, than the Netherlands.

48th Highlanders of Canada Pipes and Drums. Picture taken by Jose Valencia.

But back to Canada. This is our party, after all!

We’re 150 years old – so what exactly are we celebrating today? In Dutch and European terms, of course, 150 years isn’t really a long time. But we think that there is much to celebrate on this Canada Day, and some of that we’d like to share with you.

Today, we are a vast and diverse country, an Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic nation, with personal and business connections to all points on the globe. I myself am a first-generation immigrant, and almost everyone I have ever met in my career as a diplomat has a cousin in Toronto!

Canadians enjoy an incredible diversity of cultural traditions that has enriched our art, our music, our literature and our very outlook on the world. For us, our very diversity is a source of strength, and enhances the human experience.

Our current Prime Minister’s father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, memorably said that “There is no such thing as a model or ideal Canadian. What could be more absurd than the concept of an ‘all Canadian’ boy or girl? A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate.”

We are concerned with populist voices that claim that diversity is a threat. When everyone can participate fully and equally in society, they will contribute to their communities, each in their own unique way. Different perspectives spark creativity and energy, from which true social progress results.

Like the Netherlands, we take pride in being a country that promotes openness in all aspects of life – openness to people, to trade and investment, to different cultures, to innovation and ideas – and it is in the pursuit of these values that Canadians engage.

You can count on Canada to continue to play an influential and constructive role on the world stage.

One way Canada is stepping up is by deepening our multilateral engagement, through partnerships with such countries as the Netherlands, to advance peace, security, development and human rights. We are pleased to have recently taken over from the Netherlands as co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition, which champions LGBTQI rights around the world.

Guests in front of the “Liberation Monument”. Picture taken by Jose Valencia.

As part of this engagement, Canada is seeking election to the UN Security Council in 2021-22, and we champion qualified Canadians to serve the institutions we value. I am pleased to welcome here today my friends Marcia Cran, recently elected to the UN Human Rights Committee, and Kimberly Prost, Canada’s candidate for the position of Judge on the International Criminal Court.

Next year, we’ll be proud to host the 2018 G7 Summit. The Summit will be an important opportunity for Canada to engage our G7 partners on pressing global challenges and to pursue further collaboration on innovative and clean economic growth.

Our openness translates into the way we approach trade. Like the Dutch, Canadians are unapologetic globalists. But we are pursuing a new and progressive approach to doing business across borders – one that ensures that the benefits and opportunities generated by global trade are sustainable and widely shared by people everywhere, including women, youth and Indigenous peoples.

To this end, we are excited that provisional application of CETA will begin imminently, and look forward to its ratification by the Dutch parliament once a new government is formed.

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