Remarks in honour of President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden
Miigwetch, Claudette, for that beautiful prayer. Mr. President, Joe, thanks for coming to visit, neighbour.
Dr. Biden, Jill, thank you for being here as well. I know Sophie had a great time showing you around today.
Now, over the years at various summits and meetings, we've had a lot of meals and a lot of working conversations, but it's truly special to host you here at home in Canada.
My dear friends and other guests, thank you for being here in fine form to host our American friends.
Joe, one thing that everybody has learned about you is that you're a proud Irish American. You celebrate your roots. And that's so important to do, whether one's a Bangladeshi American or Bolivian Canadian or any heritage, this diversity makes our countries and our communities stronger, better and more resilient.
And it's good to be loud about it, too, because the diversity of our origins may not always be obvious on first glance. For instance, the Canadian Americans, or American Canadians in our midst tonight, you don't always know how someone will spell the word colour.
Now, Joe and Jill, you may not know this, but there is a proud tradition amongst Canadians, where we watch movies and television and nod knowingly to each other, saying, Americans don't know this, but we know they're Canadian.
Take legendary comedy duo, Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara here tonight.
(Cheers & Applause)
They've been in dozens of American movies, playing American folk singers, American parents, American dog breeders. Catherine, you've created absolutely iconic characters like, well, Kevin's mom and Moira Rose. And Eugene, at this point, people just think of you as Canadian as American Pie.
I'm so glad my kids aren't here tonight so I don't have to explain that joke to them.
But Catherine and Eugene, like so many of the people here tonight, wave the Canadian flag at home, in the U.S. and some from even further away. I'm particularly pleased to be here at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum to be able to honour the accomplishments of Canadians in space. As Joe pointed out this afternoon, in the coming years we’ll certainly be marking the fact that a Canadian will be heading towards the moon as part of the Artemis two mission, and I look forward to that display.
But I took a look around on the way in, and I hadn't yet seen any displays for one of Canada's most famous inhabitants of galaxies far, far away, Anakin Skywalker, also known as Hayden Christensen, who is with us here tonight.
And I could go on, but I think the habit of ours, that we have as Canadians, is really about pointing out how seamless the closeness between our two countries really is.
Many people have gathered here this evening. Be it from the world of the arts, politics, business, the media or the public service. You all contribute to the thriving economy and rich culture that we share. There is no country in the world that has as many strong ties as our two countries.
Both of our countries are built on a strong foundation of democracy, of opportunity, of a belief that hope and hard work will build a better future. Our two countries share the longest peaceful border on earth, as long as you don't talk about hockey. Although, as a Habs fan, I really appreciated your Toronto comments this afternoon.
(Laughter & Applause)
Our border is almost 9,000 kilometers in length. Okay, a little less than 6,000 miles. That’s right, we don't share the metric system, but we do share so much else. From the northern reaches of Alaska and Yukon, which share beautiful landscapes and rich Indigenous cultures, to the Atlantic shores where hardworking fishers in Atlantic provinces and states source the kind of high-quality fish and seafood we're enjoying for our appetizer tonight.
Joe, the last time you visited, it was a snowy night in December 2016. You saw that changes were coming. You warned us of countries turning increasingly inward. You warned that progress was at stake. You saw how crucial strong leadership among liberal democracies was to be. And as your term as Vice President was coming to a close, you talked about how the world would start looking to Canada and to Canadians to stand strong in the face of disruption.
Well, I want you to know that Canadians have been working really hard. Let me tell you about the progress we've been making. We forged ahead in the fight against climate change here at home and on the international stage. We've safeguarded reproductive rights in this country, providing funding for women's health around the world.
(Cheers & Applause)
And we just recently launched a $10-a-day Early Learning and Child Care Plan that has already seen women's participation in the Canadian workforce rise.
We have walked the path of reconciliation. In July, the Pope came to Canada to apologize. Chief Wilton Littlechild, glad to see you here tonight. Willie placed a feathered headdress on the pontiff in a profound gesture of forgiveness and reconciliation.
We've provided a safe haven for refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria, and welcomed people from around the world. We've tackled inequality. We've cut the poverty rate in Canada by more than half. And we've advocated internationally for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals that will help build a global future that is fair, equal and peaceful.
Yes, Mr. President, Canada has done a lot since your last visit. We’ve continued our efforts to build a better future, to fight climate change and to include everyone in our economy, in our success. But of course, a lot of work remains. We have our share of challenges ahead, and we will continue to partner in the security and economy chapter, by remaining friends and allies.
Today, new threats to liberal democracy loom on the horizon and we are united in our efforts to protect our countries and what we stand for. Canada and the U.S. are bolstering Ukraine's defense against Putin's illegal and unjustifiable invasion. We are steadfast security partners through NORAD and NATO and the Five Eyes alliances. We're standing shoulder to shoulder in defense of our values and against authoritarianism, and we are working to fight climate change and create new opportunities for people in both of our countries.
We are facing the future head on, eyes open and with an unwavering belief that justice will always rise up and make, as one of your favorite poets, Seamus Heaney said, “Hope and history rhyme.” Through our work together, let us secure peace, secure opportunity, and secure a healthy future for generations to come.
With that, I ask you all to raise your glasses as I offer a toast.
I raise my glass to our history, to our hopes, our prosperity and to peace and security that unite Canada and the United States as allies, neighbours and especially, genuine friends.
To shared history and shared hope, to shared prosperity, and to the shared peace and security that binds Canada and the United States together as allies, as neighbours and, most importantly, as true friends.