Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks at the Canadian Forces Base Borden Centennial
Good morning, everyone. It’s a pleasure and an incredible honour for me to be here today. I want to thank you all for inviting me. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this extraordinary event in so many ways, through your generosity, through your service. From Honorary Colonel Massie to 102-year-old World War II Navy veteran Norman Burling.
Today CFB Borden celebrates a distinguished 100 years. A hundred years of giving our brave men and women the tools they need to be effective leaders. A hundred years of inspiring Canadians to serve their country with pride and selfless dedication. A hundred years of making Canada and the world a safer place for my family and for yours.
This base has become a central location for our Canadian Armed Forces, a place where our most talented and brilliant personnel are trained. With 20,000 graduates each year, it is the largest military training base in Canada. In the last 100 years, two million Canadians have trained at and graduated from CFB Borden. Here in Simcoe County, CFB Borden is a pillar and symbol of Canadian excellence.
In addition to members of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force, we also have some dedicated public officials and new Canadians here with us. In fact, I know that many of these new Canadians obtained their citizenship this very morning. So congratulations, and thank you very much for being here.
I also want to highlight the presence of Lieutenant Governor Dowdeswell of Ontario, Mayor Leeteuk Daraf (ph), and several other mayors and members of Parliament from the region.
In particular, let me recognize my friend Jeff Lehman, Mayor of Barrie, and the Honourable Kellie Leitch, the local MP, for CFB Borden.
While today represents an important milestone here at Base Borden, it’s a celebration that falls within the context of many other significant anniversaries. This week we recognized the 72nd anniversary of D-Day, the day on which allied troops proved not only their unquestionable valour but also their military effectiveness. As they have been so many times since, Canadian soldiers were at the heart of that action and critical to its success.
And next summer, with the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, we recognize again the tremendous contributions Canada has made for the cause of liberty, freedom, and unity. Vimy was the first time that soldiers from all four Canadian divisions fought side by side on the battlefield. Of course, over 3,600 Canadians died in that battle.
We remember their courage and their sacrifice with a memorial that, like the resolve of Canadians themselves, survived a Second World War. Nearly a century after their loss, Canada remembers and continues to mourn. Canadians deeply appreciate all that these brave men and their families, their parents, their wives, their children and their communities gave in service to our country.
Today we all come together to take part in these centennial celebrations united in common purpose. We’re here to reiterate the place of CFB Borden in the broader Canadian story. We’re here to reflect upon the importance of service to our great country.
So many of us have a friend or a family member that has served or currently serves in our Canadian Armed Forces. I know that all Canadians agree when I say that our veterans and service men and women have our eternal respect and gratitude.
As I travel around the world over these past months and as our government engages in multilateralism across many different international institutions and reinvigorates the peacekeeping that Canada has always played such a significant role in, we must reflect upon how we came to be seen as a country engaged positively in the world, a country of peacekeepers and peacemakers.
And it’s a bit of a puzzle for some how a country of such modesty, both in scale and in demeanour, could have such a significant role to play on the world stage. If we are known as peacekeepers and engaged multilateralists and respected as such, it’s not because we’re polite, it’s not because we’re friendly and smart and peaceable, although of course those feed into it. But the reason the world pays heed to Canada is because we fought like lions in the trenches of World War I, on the beaches of World War II, and in theatres in conflicts scattered around the globe over the course of our history.
We showed our ability to stand for our values and fight and sacrifice for them in far away places. We showed that we recognize how incredibly fortunate we are simply to be Canadians. But that with that good fortune comes responsibility, comes responsibility to serve our country, comes our responsibility to serve the world of which we are such a part.
And if around the world today, Canadians are well-received as diplomats, as aid workers, as humanitarians, and as intervenors, it is because the calibre of the women and men who continue to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces here at home and around the world continues to demonstrate in an uncertain and often unsafe world, that Canada is committed to playing our part indeed to continuing to punch well above our weight.
So thank you to those who serve. Thank you for your passion. Thank you for your dedication to his country. Thank you for the sacrifices you make each and every day. You represent the very best of what it means to be Canadian. Congratulations once again to CFB Borden on 100 years of inspiring Canadians and bringing out the very best in those who serve. Here’s to 100 more.