29 November 2009
Aboard HMCS Ville de Québec, off Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Thank you, Commander Luc Cassivi, for your kind introduction, and to you and the crew of HMCS Ville de Québec for hosting us here. It’s good that Commodore Mark Norman, commander of the Atlantic fleet, could also be here with us.
Men and women of the Ville de Québec, It’s a huge pleasure to be with you today. It’s an honour to stand among brave and dedicated men and women such as yourselves, who have chosen the noble career of serving our great country.
You know that the first responsibility of government is to take care of national security. Nothing comes before that. If you can’t protect your own people, you soon don’t have much of a country.
But that takes willing citizens. Somebody has to step up to the plate. Somebody has to say, "I will serve."
We all know what that can mean for a sailor. Canada is a maritime nation, with interests all over an increasingly globalized world.
It can mean going far from home. It means spending a long time away from people you love. And sometimes it means going into danger, as you well know.
This has been a busy ship. A busy crew.
Last year, Ville de Québec was part of NATO’s standing naval force in the Atlantic. Then you were off Africa, escorting a relief ship through pirate-infested waters. Now, you’re off Trinidad, providing security for the Commonwealth Summit.
You’re showing the countries of the Americas that Canada is a good neighbour, and that it takes hemispheric security very, very seriously.
Indeed, in the last 18 months, Ville de Québec has shown how Canada’s go-anywhere, do-anything navy does whatever the international situation demands of Canada; humanitarian assistance, stabilization, or combat operations.
Let me just say this: living, as we do, in a time when some in the political arena do not hesitate before throwing the most serious of allegations at our men and women in uniform, based on the most flimsy of evidence, remember that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are proud of you and stand behind you.
And I am proud of you, and I stand beside you.
That’s why I’m glad to be here with you today on the deck of HMCS Ville de Québec. You are doing good work, vital work, work that only good people, the best people,
can do, or will do.
That is also why our government is striving to provide the tools the Canadian Forces need, including new helicopters, ships and aircraft.
So, on behalf of the Government of Canada, and indeed, all Canadians,
I want to thank you for your service to your country.
Canada is grateful that you are "Ready, aye ready." You make a difference.
God bless all of you, and God bless Canada.