Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks at a dinner with Taoiseach Varadkar of Ireland
Taoiseach, distinguished guests, honoured friends, thank you for joining us this evening. Thank you for the exceptionally warm welcome you’ve given me, Sophie, Hadrien, our Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, and our Irish-Canadian members of parliament, David McGuinty, James Maloney, and Seamus O’Regan. I hope it won’t be long before we’re able to return the favor of warm hospitality. After all, it’s the connections between people that have made Ireland and Canada such strong and lasting friends. Whether it’s university students on exchange, or Canadians who travel here to connect to their own family’s Irish roots -- and one in ten Canadians claim some Irish ancestry -- our citizens have a long and close history together. Irish culture is alive and well in Canada.
Out west, the annual St-Patrick’s Day Parade in Carmangay, Alberta is billed as the world’s shortest, it lasts only two minutes and travels less than 100 meters, but the village has been proudly celebrating it for more than 30 years. In Canada that’s a fair bit of time. How old is this place?
These strong ties can be seen in cities like Montreal, where families took in members of an Irish hockey team who were in town, the Flying Ducks of Dublin. And those ties can be seen in smaller towns like Miramichi, where the Irish Festival attracts thousands of visitors every year. Miramichi, I must point out, is the birthplace of our current ambassador, the great Kevin Vickers. A man whose courage and honesty embodies what is best in both our countries. Thank you for being here Kevin.
… And further east in Newfoundland and Labrador, Talamh an Éisc, described by author Pat Coogan as the ‘most Irish place in the world, outside of Ireland’ is only a four-hour flight away; a place well-known to the Taoiseach where dialects that have been lost here can still be found, and where St-Patrick’s Day is of course, a statutory holiday. Their time zone is an extra half hour ahead too, so they can be that much closer to you.
The economic ties between Canada and Ireland are strong too; we worked hard together with our other European partners to create good jobs for our citizens by ratifying CETA. Throughout the lengthy negotiation process, Ireland was a steadfast supporter of this historic trade deal, and I know that all of us are looking forward to the good jobs and the greater opportunities it will afford both our countries.
And most of all, Ireland and Canada are connected through are shared values. Irish citizens, like Canadians, know that we are strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them. And more than that, Canadians and Irish alike embrace those differences. We all want to leave to our children and grandchildren a better world than the one we inherited from our parents, and we’re willing to work hard to build a cleaner, more prosperous world, one where every person has a real and fair chance at success.
I don’t want to keep you any further, so I’ll leave you with one final thought from one of Canada’s founders; equal parts proud Canadian and proud Irishman, Thomas D’Arcy McGee, advocated for an open and diverse society. One that allowed all citizens to live up to their fullest potential; and he knew then as we do now, that our success would not rest on the whims of fortune, but rather on the depth of our compassion, and the decency of our own hearts. Looking forward, he said:
“We should strengthen the faith of our people in their own future, the faith of every Canadian in Canada. This faith wrongs no one, burdens no one, menaces no one, dishonours no one.”
May we all continue to strengthen the faith in ourselves and in each other for many years to come.