|L'ASSOCIATION DES MUSULMANS PROGRESSITES DU CANADA|
ASSOCIATION OF PROGRESSIVE MUSLIMS OF CANADA
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY US AMBASSADOR DAVID WILKINS ON CANADA DAY 2008
Goldy, for that very kind introduction and for your friendship.
members of the Diplomatic Corps…
guest and friends all:
you for allowing Susan and me to share this very special evening with
all of you.
confess we’ve come upon that time in our service here in Canada when
moments like this have become bittersweet…
they mark for us the beginning of the end of our time here.
so long Canada was filled with so many “firsts” for us:
first Canada Day…
first Question Period…
first white Christmas…
first white Easter.
now tomorrow, we’ll be experiencing our
final Canada Day with all of you…
in a few days our last July 4
celebration here in Ottawa…it’s so hard to believe how fast the time
Goldy just mentioned…
guess both Susan and I have really been thinking about time lately with
the birth of our first grandbabies…
our son Robert with his new son and daughter…
our other son James dote on his new nephew and niece really just took me
seems like only yesterday when all James wanted in the whole world was a
unlike that turtle who was a little slow on the up-tick…
intend to follow the lead of my president and sprint to the finish line
in the 7 months or so I have left to serve my country in yours.
I travel throughout Canada, a lot of folks express concern about how the
upcoming elections in the United States might impact our trade
relationship – especially in terms of NAFTA.
no one can predict the future, I have to believe that no matter who the
next president is…
simply won’t be able to ignore the benefits of NAFTA and all it brings
to this trade relationship of ours.
Bush has worked vigorously to get Congress to support free trade deals
the more markets you open to economic prosperity…
more opportunities you advance for the values held sacred by Canadians
and Americans alike.
that lift themselves out of poverty by engaging in the world marketplace
are less likely to become victimized by a host of predators…from
terrorists to drug cartels.
may not happen fast enough…
I am a firm believer that when people are exposed to democracy and the
principles of justice and human rights…freedom always finds a way.
free trade can help open that door.
is but one important tool in a very long and critical war we’re waging
in the war on terror.
know now…it seems like a lifetime ago when I flew to Austin, Texas
with a delegation from Columbia, South Carolina to meet with the young
and energetic governor of Texas.
Bush and his Texas team were laying the groundwork for a presidential
I went to Austin to let Bush know early and eagerly that he had strong
support in South Carolina.
of us sitting there that beautiful fall day could have ever foreseen the
terror and chaos that would soon shatter our nation’s illusion of
know that history had much bigger plans for this future president and
so much of what’s said and written about George W. Bush is by those
who’ve never met him.
who don’t know him.
tonight I’d like to do something I’ve never done before here in
that’s offer a bit of a personal perspective on the president I know:
the man I’m proud to call my friend.
not asking you to agree with my opinion:
of you may.
of you will not.
that’s part of what makes our countries so great – our ability and
freedom to exchange different viewpoints and ideas.
I also offer my opinion as something diplomats rarely present…and that
is simply my personal views
of a man I respect more today than the day I first met him.
brown hair President Bush had when he entered the Oval Office is now
what has not changed in seven years is President Bush’s resolve to
thwart terrorism and protect North America.
visited him at the Oval Office less than two months after 3,000 innocent
murdered in New York…Washington and Pennsylvania.
country was still deep in mourning after the shock of 9/11…
as soon as I looked at him…
could tell the burden he was carrying was heavy.
thing that had always impressed Susan and me most about George Bush was
the sense of peace about him…
in the heat of an intense campaign…
and Laura were always peaceful…
when I saw him that day in the Oval Office…
still had that unshakable peace about him…
there was something else…
back…I guess…I’d just call it a sense of conviction.
what he told me…
his understanding even then of the crushing decisions yet to come.
he was so careful to emphasize from the very beginning the enemy is
certainly not Islam:
enemy is anyone who hijacks religion to use as a basis for terror and
the murder of innocent people.
Mobeen…if you’ll indulge me for just a moment here…
like to digress and take this opportunity to personally thank you…
the Muslim Community across Canada…
all you’ve done for not only Susan and me…but for the entire U.S.
the issue…whether it’s public or cultural affairs…economics
or border issues…you have always extended a hand of friendship and
understanding to our Embassy Team.
know I speak for all of us at the Embassy when I say our dealings with
all of you has enriched our lives and made us especially appreciative…and
aware…in this post 9-11 world.
you for your friendship.
say that time is a great healer…and often it’s good and healthy to
let go of the past.
those who lead us cannot afford to forget the lessons born in great
history can and often does repeat itself.
the immediate wake of 9-11…we were all living with so many
fears…fears we don’t think much about anymore:
unexpected package in the mail…
Laden’s next move which back then we anticipated every day.
when just getting back on an airplane was an act of faith?
was stepping into an elevator…or climbing to the top floor of a
W. Bush was just 7-months on the job when he was called to lead our
nation through these fears…
the single worst domestic attack in U.S. history – more destructive
and deadly than even the strike on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
now less than a decade later…two fragile democracies have been born
where terror and tyranny were once the rule.
road in Afghanistan continues to be riddled with danger against a
vicious enemy who understands this is his last stand…that is why the
fight is so bitter…and so vital.
bomb attacks and fatalities in Iraq are down by almost 90% over the last
life has improved as al Qaeda has been all but devastated across the
the Iraqi currency and government are both showing tangible signs of
the words of one official with the Council on Foreign Relations…Iraq
has moved from that of a “failed state” to at least that of a
I’m also reminded that:
the strength and fortitude of our allied and NATO partners committed to
smarts and dedication of law enforcement agencies worldwide who have
thwarted dozens of terrorist attacks -- including the planned strike on
two Air Canada flights in 2006 –
the grace of God…
has not been another terrorist assault on North America since 9-11.
this could not have been accomplished without our friend Canada.
now Canadian heroes are stationed in Afghanistan with our NATO partners
fighting the Taliban…
helping to rebuild that country in a thousand significant ways:
new schools that Afghan girls are attending for the first time…
roads and safe drinking wells…
Afghan police and military personnel…
countless other humanitarian and relief efforts.
saw Canada’s efforts first hand when I visited your troops in
Afghanistan with General Hillier and Minister MacKay at Christmas time
simply to thank them for their service to your country.
saw first hand that building a democracy is demanding.
we all know that allowing terror and tyranny to breed is devastating.
that is why we do not turn away.
after my visit to the Oval Office in 2001…
only a few miles away from the still-smoldering tomb of New York’s
Bush delivered an address to the United Nations’ General Assembly:
confident,” he said, “that history has an Author who fills time and
eternity with His purpose.
know that evil is real, but good will prevail against it.
is the teaching of many faiths, and in that assurance, we gain strength
for a long journey…
did not ask for this mission, yet there is honor in history’s call.
have a chance to write the story of our times…
story of courage defeating cruelty and light overcoming darkness…
calling is worthy of any life…
worthy of every nation…
let us go forward, confident…determined…and unafraid.”
week as we celebrate both Canada Day and Independence Day in the U.S…
it be in honor of all those men and women of our Armed Services who have
bravely answered freedom’s call...
are indeed worthy of our deepest devotion and praise.
God bless all of them…and all of you.
you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you this evening…
more importantly thank you for sharing your beautiful country with Susan
and me these last three years.
has been our honor to live here among you and to call you friends.
God bless Canada and God bless America.