3 February 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the following remarks at the unveiling of the Diamond Jubilee Medal design and emblem:
"Good day everyone and thank you, Your Excellency, for welcoming us here today.
"Your Excellency, your remarks at your installation inspired us all. You spoke of giving volunteerism a higher profile, and of encouraging more Canadians to become volunteers so as to create a more generous and compassionate country.
"This is an objective shared by all Canadians from across the country. In pursuit of this objective – the encouragement of volunteerism in order to create a more generous and compassionate country – we are gathered here today, Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, to announce an important new honour.
"It is a medal to be awarded on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Canada to recognize significant public service and it will be awarded next year as part of the celebrations planned for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
"Her Majesty’s 60th anniversary is an incredible milestone, and I will have more to say about it in a few moments. However, first, I would like to offer a brief reflection.
"Canada is a proud country, with much to be proud of, and in the year to come, we will be marking some important national anniversaries. Of course, when I speak of national anniversaries, I know that it is not in our national character to dwell on the past. Our natural endowments and our sense of purpose as a country have always focussed us on the future. Yet, anniversaries remind us not just of where we have come from, but also of who we are.
"They provide the threads in the common bonds that we share. They are landmarks on the road we have travelled as a people. Without them, we would become without history, without a journey, directionless, rootless, more of a crowd, less of a nation.
"So, in the year 2012, we shall recall three things. First, it was in 1812 that the hardy Selkirk settlers began our true migration westward, moving into the area and laying the foundations of what we today recognize as the great province of Manitoba. With hindsight’s unerring precision, it looks as though it could hardly have been otherwise.
"But of course, there was nothing inevitable about it. That Canada today stretches from sea to sea to sea is a testament to the courage, perseverance and iron will of people who dared to dream dreams and then take the risks big enough to take half a continent, and make of it a country.
"Canada itself was never inevitable and here is the second event that we will be commemorating during the year. Today, our alliance with the United States of America is central to our national objectives, a unique understanding between nations based on common values and underpinned by the world’s largest two-way trading relationship.
"But, of course, as we all know, that wasn’t so in 1812. It took a war to establish that what lay north of the United States would be a different country. Only by force of arms, the combined efforts of the British army, First Nations warriors and colonial militias – English and French speaking – was Canada saved and did Canadians become a people apart from Americans – a people with two languages, embracing cultural diversity, seeking freedom within the bounds of order and tradition, including a parliamentary government, and importantly for today’s business, a constitutional monarchy.
"And that brings me to the third object of next year’s national observations. On February 6, 1952, Canada proclaimed Elizabeth Queen, the first Commonwealth country to do so. And thus, in 2012, we shall also celebrate Her Diamond Jubilee.
"It will be a celebration of Her service to the people of this country and indeed, through Her leadership of the Commonwealth, to almost a quarter of the people in the world, during almost the entire course of her long and devoted adult life. Her love for Canada was first expressed the previous fall, when the young Princess made her first visit to this Dominion.
"And, nothing has changed. I recall with pleasure Her Majesty’s remark last summer as she stepped off the plane in Halifax, that she felt she had "come home."
"And, of course, we all recall how readily Canadians reciprocated Her affection, when more than 100,000 people came to Parliament Hill to greet Her Majesty on Canada Day, making it the largest national party ever hosted there.
"Through more than twenty Royal Tours and countless official functions
as our Head of State, she has earned the admiration of all who have witnessed her deep commitment to public service. It is with that in mind, therefore, that we have chosen to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee, by recognizing others who also serve in their many capacities.
"Today I am announcing that our government will present, with Her Majesty’s blessing, the Diamond Jubilee Medal to recognize thousands of outstanding Canadians, of all ages, for service and achievement.
"The Diamond Jubilee Medal will acknowledge those unsung heroes from all walks of life who support and contribute to their communities, each in their own unique ways. Medal recipients will reflect the diverse range of volunteer service and Canadian success stories from coast to coast to coast.
"The formal call for nominations will come in the spring. Today I am publicly launching the program, and I invite everyone to think about various people in their community who are deserving of this medal. This is only the first in a series of Diamond Jubilee programs for 2012. The Diamond Jubilee Medal presentations will give us all an opportunity to recognize people that make a difference in communities right across Canada.
"Thank you, and now, Your Excellency, would you be so kind as to join me in unveiling the official emblem of the Diamond Jubilee?"