November 15, 2018

Canada Day 2018

H.E. Ms. Sabine Nölke, Ambassador of Canada.

By Roy Lie Atjam.

The Ambassador of Canada in the Netherlands H.E. Ms. Sabine Nölke and Mr. Chris Ram hosted a garden party on the occasion of Canada’s 151st Anniversary of Confederation on June 28.

Celebrations took place at Canada House – Villa Groot Haesebroek, Wassenaar in the Netherlands. Contrary to last year’s inclement weather, it has been a bright and sunny afternoon.

For additional Kim Vermaat’s pictures, please open the link below: https://www.flickr.com/photos/109407424@N02/albums/72157697351456301

Ambassador Nölke, together with Mr. Roelof van Ees, Chief of Protocol who leaving us at the end of July.

Ambassador Nölke warmly welcomed her many guests, a very diverse gathering and delivered a captivating welcome address. In part, this is what Ambassador Nölke went on to say:

“Welcome! Bienvenue! Welkom!

First and foremost, a heartfelt thank-you to all of our sponsors who made today possible. A special shout-out to Northland Power, TD Bank, Volker Wessels, and Shell for your generosity.

Today we mark Canada’s 151st birthday.

There is much to celebrate for Canadians: our economy is growing; we ranked 7th on this year’s World Happiness Report; and we won our FIFA 2026 bid alongside our American and Mexican friends. Canada making the World Cup is definitely something to celebrate!

But we are also a work in progress. The dividends of greater prosperity are uneven. Gender equality remains a goal. Reconciliation with our Indigenous people is incomplete. Climate action is taking time.

H.E. Dirk Brengelmann, Ambassador of Germany, H.E. Roman Buzek, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic, H.E. Mr Agustin Vazquez Gomez, Ambassador of El Salvador, H.E. Abdelouahab Bellouki, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, H.E. Ms. Sahar Ghanem, Ambassador of Yemen, H.E. Mr. Bruce Koloane, Ambassador of South Africa, Mr. Boris A. Zhilko, Minister-Counsellor, Embassy of Russia and H.E. Brett Mason, Ambassador of Australia.

This is not the end of history for Canada. We recognise that there’s work to be done if we are to promote the liberal democratic values that have come to define our country and many of yours.

Because today, make no mistake, liberal democracy and the international rules based order are under siege. It’s under siege from without, but also from within.

Authoritarian regimes are seeking to undermine many of us through espionage, disinformation and propaganda.

While at home, we are less than perfect in many respects. Wealth that goes unshared hollows out the middle class. Stagnating median wages breed anxiety as parents cannot provide their children with the same opportunities once afforded to them. Precarious work, uncertain pensions, the rising cost of housing all feed angry populism and its promise – albeit fallacious – that somewhere, somehow there exists a panacea. Scapegoating the “other” becomes a coping mechanism, be it refugees or migrants among us, members of minorities or foreign powers, even neighbours.

This is the other edge of the sword that is globalization and the technology revolution.

So what can be done?

On our home fronts, we have to work harder to address legitimate grievances of people. Our children need to be educated for the jobs of the future. National potential must be tapped. Everyone needs a slice of the pie.

Internationally, we have to strike back and make our voices heard.

We have to persist in our efforts to promote effective multi-lateralism, striving to improve our imperfect institutions rather than abandon them.

We don’t stop free trading – we trade better. That means labour and environmental standards built into progressive agreements, like CETA, that benefit everyone.

We have to up our game to guard against cyber-meddling, disinformation and propaganda.

And we have to own integrity. As our Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has argued: facts matter. Truth matters. Competence and honesty, among elected leaders and in our public services, matter.

Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, aunt of King Willem-Alexander, and Ambassador Nölke.

We have to acknowledge that our democracies, Canada’s included, aren’t perfect. And we have to admit our mistakes, learn from them and do better.

I was proud as a Canadian, a public servant and a mother when last November Prime Minister Trudeau issued a historic apology to Canada’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Community for decades of discrimination and suffering. Criminal records were expunged and an agreement in a class action lawsuit was reached.

Internationally, Canada, like the Netherlands, is taking a leadership role in advancing LGBTI rights.

With Chile, we chair the Equal Rights Coalition of over 30 countries around the globe. The Coalition is working towards decriminalization and respect – not tolerance, respect – for the LGBTI community and the contributions it makes to our societies.

Next month, Canada will host the Global Conference on LGBTI Human Rights and Inclusive Development in Vancouver, with the theme “Leaving No One Behind.”

We were one of the first countries to recognize sexual orientation as a ground for discrimination in refugee claims, and identified members of the LGBTI community as particularly vulnerable when bringing in some 43,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, including many through private sponsorships by ordinary citizens.

And in this context, I want to say a special word of welcome to some of the Netherlands’ LGBTI rights activists with us today from  Cultuuren Ontspannings centrum (COC), HIVOS, and the International Queer and Migrant Film Festival. Thank you for the work you do, and thank you for being here.

It is my hope, and my Government’s hope, that one day we’ll be able to proclaim the end of discrimination, repression and inequality. That we will no longer need to fight for equal rights and freedoms, rule of law, government by and for the people. But until then, we must stand on guard for these values that we hold not only to be Canadian but to be universal.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to wish you a happy Canada Day! Bonne fête du Canada! Fijne Canada-dag!

 

 

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