2 July 2008
Your Excellency, General Hillier, General Natynczyk, Minister MacKay, members of the Canadian Forces, honoured veterans, families, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Today we pass the command of the Canadian Forces from one man to another. But today's ceremony is not about either of these outstanding officers, because it is not about any one individual in particular. It is about the continuity of one of our most essential national institutions, the ultimate guardian of Canada's sovereignty, security and place in the world.
The office of the Chief of Defence Staff embodies the skill, dedication and professionalism that have been the hallmarks of the Canadian Forces throughout their glorious history. Our country has never sought to conquer or control, but when the cause has been right, our finest citizens have always answered the call, and from Queenston Heights and the Canadian Expeditionary Force through Korea and the Cold War to Kosovo and Kandahar and every mission in between, our soldiers, sailors and airmen have proven themselves to be simply the best in the world.
To uphold this tradition of excellence, our Government has created the Canada First Defence Strategy, our comprehensive plan to modernize the Canadian Forces. Today the task of implementing the strategy passes from one outstanding Canadian soldier to another. General Hillier, on behalf of the Government and the people of Canada, I thank you for your outstanding leadership, and I congratulate you for your success in transforming the Forces, in leading it through its most difficult mission in half a century, and in restoring its pride of place in our public life. General Natynczyk, I thank you for accepting the challenge to lead our military, and I know you will fulfill your duties with the consummate skill, dedication and professionalism that you have displayed throughout your entire career.
Finally on behalf of all Canadians, I thank every man and woman who has chosen to wear the uniform of the Canadian Forces. It is you who stand on guard for our True North, strong and free. Thank you. God bless our land.