Statement Article from
Archived - Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada to the Parliament of the United Kingdom
Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered the following address to the Parliament of the United Kingdom :
“Thank you Lord Speaker, Mr. Speaker, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Lords and Members of the House of Commons, colleagues.
“For anyone who fully understands and truly cherishes our free and democratic institutions and their nature and the long history upon which they rest there is no honour to compare with an invitation to stand here, at the very cradle of our political system and to address the Members of the Parliament of Westminster.
“Canada is in many ways such a different country from yours, with our vast geography, our many cultures, and our two national languages ,a heritage that dates from the founding of our state by our first governor, Samuel de Champlain, and preserved to this day by our French-speaking fellow citizens.
“Yet, at their very core, our Canadian institutions of government are most profoundly indebted to their British ancestors for both their shape and their remarkable durability.
“And so, as a Canadian, I am deeply honoured, and profoundly humbled
to be here.
“Mr. Speaker, thank you also for your kind words of welcome.
“And Prime Minister, I am reminded of your generous compliments before the Parliament of Canada two years ago, and your warm hospitality over the past one, upon the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen, and the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“Might I say in response how much I have admired your determined efforts and your wise and principled leadership during these past few years, as we have dealt
with the difficult and critical issues facing our countries and the world, issues which require the best of what has always made Britain unique and strong, and which you have plainly and repeatedly demonstrated.
“And, of course, it goes without saying, that I have also valued your friendship, which is without price.
“I would also be remiss, while here in London, if I did not extend the very best wishes of the Canadian people, to the Duke of Edinburgh, for his good health and
to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they prepare to welcome
their first child.
“Now ladies and gentlemen, some will tell you that I am the second Canadian Prime Minister to address the British Parliament.
“the truth be told, I am the third.
“It is true that William Lyon Mackenzie King was the only other Prime Minister of Canada to address a gathering such as this.
“But Andrew Bonar Law often addressed this Parliament, during the 1920s, in his capacity as Prime Minister of Great Britain.
“And he was also Canadian, born in New Brunswick, just a few leagues removed
from the place where my own ancestors settled after arriving from England in 1774.
“However, with due respect to Bonar Law, it is the former Prime Minister of Canada, Mackenzie King, to whom I now wish to refer.
“In May 1944, at the invitation of Sir Winston Churchill, he addressed the Members of this Parliament.
“A few years before that, in the darkest days of the Second World War, Churchill himself had delivered his famous ‘some chicken, some neck’ speech to the Parliament of Canada.
“As the master orator that he was, Churchill had heaped fulsome, and I must say,
well deserved praise, upon Canada’s remarkable contribution to the war effort.
“Now, it was King’s turn.
“He did not disappoint, and there is much in his remarks that bears repetition, nearly seventy years later.
“He spoke of friendship.
“He spoke of timeless principles.
“And he spoke of the power of the values that we share to call forth from us the very best parts of our character.
“Canada’s entry into the war, he said, was not from obligation, but ‘was the outcome of our deepest political instinct, a love of freedom and a sense of justice.’
“And he spoke of the fraternity of those countries that, when they look at themselves, see something of the values they inherited from Great Britain.
“My friends, the uncertainties and the challenges before us today are plainly different and I dare say lesser, than those of the 1940s.
“True values, however, do not change, though they may be at times forgotten.
“Allow me, therefore, to suggest that in times of difficulty, recourse to such values,
and to the friends who share them is just as relevant today as it was when the fate of our civilization itself, rested in the hands of greater men such as Churchill and King.
“Now is not the time, therefore, to doubt our values or our friends, or, indeed, ourselves.
“Rather, now is the time to re-discover our values, to reaffirm their importance and to fall back upon them.
“Britain and Canada may not be today the largest economies in the world, nor the biggest military powers, nor the greatest in terms of population.
“But I believe we share things that are more lasting, 800 years of constitutional order and evolution that has allowed us to achieve what others wish for, to choose our governments and to hold them accountable.
“To worship God, in our own way, and to live in harmony with neighbours who do so differently, and to enjoy standards of living once considered unimaginable, while aiding our fellow citizens in their times of illness, unemployment and need.
“These are the things to which ordinary men and women the world over aspire, many of which first arose here in the generations brought forth on this very soil.
“And so, what we need for the new challenges of a new world is not a new set of values.
“It is the steadfast resolve to fully apply those time-honoured principles that we already know work.
“Certainly, that has been the Canadian approach to the economy which, I know, Prime Minister, is the top priority for both your government and mine.
“For example, in Canada, we have proceeded on the conviction that we must
live within our means, make sound, long-term decisions, and reward hard work and those who play by the rules.
“We also know that, all things being equal, a dollar in a citizen’s own pocket
is more beneficial than a dollar in the hands of Sir Humphrey Appleby.
“Now, I often tell you that in Canada, some have come to believe that Sir Humphrey is a real person.
“Indeed, early on I have to tell you a former senior Canadian public servant informed me that ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ is not a comedy; it is a documentary.
“So, friends, knowing these things, in Canada, when times were good, we ran surpluses, and we used them.
“Not to expand the state, but to pay down debt and to lower taxes.
“As a result, since our Government came to office, the average Canadian family now pays about $3,300 (about 2,200 pounds) less in federal taxes every year.
“Canada now also has the lowest rate of tax on new business investment in the G-7.
“Consequently, we are widely regarded as the best place in the world to do business, and we have the best post-recession job creation record among the major developed economies.
“Our values also tell us, as you have put it, Prime Minister, that you cannot borrow your way out of a debt crisis.’
“In Canada, we have no debt crisis, so during the recession we were able, to deliberately borrow to sustain economic activity and confidence, but in a way
that was timely, targeted and temporary.
“And we are now returning, gradually but surely, to a balanced budget, without raising taxes.
“I know that, in many countries, there is a considerable debate between austerity and growth.
“Let me tell you, it is a false dichotomy.
“You need good measures of both.
“In Canada, we are investing record amounts in drivers of future growth like research, innovation, skills and infrastructure.
“Yet we are also fiscally responsible, finding substantial reductions and efficiencies in government, and ensuring that vital social programs target those genuinely in need and will be financially sustainable for the generations to come.
“Another value whose certainty has been repeatedly proven, though sadly sometimes more in the breach than in the application, is that everyone gains
in an open economy.
“Our businesses grow when new markets are opened.
“Hard-working families find that their money goes further when they have wider choices at lower prices.
“And everybody gains, when they specialize in doing what they do best.
“Therefore we have resisted calls for protectionism.
“We said no to those who would tear up our trade agreements and build economic walls around our country.
“In fact, we are doing the opposite.
“We have reduced tariffs unilaterally, giving Canada the first tariff-free manufacturing sector in the G-7.
“Liberalized trade is at the heart of our Economic Action Plan.
“Since coming to office, our Government has concluded trade agreements with nine countries, and has begun trade talks with more than fifty more.
“And it remains our hope that we will soon achieve a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union, Canada’s second-largest trading partner after the United States.
“For Canada, and for Great Britain as a member of the EU, this will be a historic step – a monumental one, in fact: a joint Canada-EU study has shown that a commercial agreement of this type would increase two-way trade by 20 percent.
“Now in this matter, as in global trade matters generally, Prime Minister, I should like to express my deep appreciation to you and to your government, for your robust advocacy on behalf of this agreement.
“It will be a great benefit to all of our citizens.
“Of course, when it comes to creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, friends there is no silver bullet, only clear objectives, consistent application and hard work.
“That is what we are doing in Canada.
“That is why the Canadian economy has created one million new jobs, one million net new jobs, since the end of the recession, why more people are working in Canada today than ever before.
“Sometimes there is pain, to be sure.
“But, a nettle once firmly grasped is on its way to being pulled out by the roots.
“Prime Minister, in this regard, I acknowledge and applaud your own leadership
in taking tough decisions to reign in spending.
“Both at home, and within the councils of the G-8 and G-20, the responsible actions of your government have set a powerful and necessary example to other nations as they grapple with massive sovereign debts of their own.
“And I know you are making the tough decisions, because you believe, because you understand, they are the right decisions, the necessary decisions.
“Indeed, these are the days when our two countries ¬– and those other nations
that share both our values and our challenges – will, whether by action or inaction,
choose their future.
“Countries that do not bring their finances under control or that close their economies to the world, will face consequences.
“And those consequences are not only economic.
“In the absence of solvency, relevancy will also disappear.
“Nothing can lead more quickly and more completely to diminished influence
in the world than the decline of economic performance and financial credibility.
“Should we fail to faithfully adhere to our values in economic matters the wider values that we wish to protect for all humanity, values of freedom, democracy and justice, of dignity, compassion and security, those values
will almost certainly be eroded.
“And they will be eroded friends at a time, when they are most needed.
“Because for good to happen in this world, someone must speak up for these values, and have the will and the capacity to act, so that these values are not mere sentiments.
“I speak of the courage to denounce oppressors and aggressors, to counter extremist ideologies,
and to confront the abominations that must not be tolerated.
“Lord Speaker, Mr. Speaker, distinguished guests, I know there are many here among us who could tell a hundred stories about how such values have guided our generations to this very day.
“From the War of 1812, to the great conflict that brought Churchill and King together, to the dusty landscapes of Afghanistan in our own time, Britons and Canadians have pursued what is right in the world, often at great cost.
“The most recent example is Libya, where, under your global leadership, Prime Minister, and under the military command of Lieutenant-General Bouchard of the Royal Canadian Air Force, a nation that faced massive and imminent slaughter at the hands of the psychotic architect of the Lockerbie horror, was given its freedom
and the opportunity (not yet fully grasped) of a peaceful and democratic future.
“We have also clung jointly to our values in the South Atlantic, supporting the right
of free people living on small islands to determine their own future.
“Frankly, though, friends, that pales today in comparison to the all too many, dangerous situations of a truly global nature, situations where, as societies
based on values and principles, we are called upon to recognize evil, even if,
the actions we should undertake are sometimes far from self-evident.
“In the Pacific, a Cold-War totalitarian state, North Korea, lingers on, determined as ever to present a real and growing danger to regional security.
“In the Middle East, its only true western democracy endures, but Israel does so amidst an unrelenting hostility to its very existence by many of its neighbours.
“A sorry testament to the persistent hatred of the Jewish people, and the moral relativism in so much of world affairs that provides shelter to such anti-Semitism.
“But no such nuance can attach to the Government of Iran and its determination to acquire nuclear weapons.
“Iran’s leaders openly brag that they will eliminate Israel from the face of the earth.
“This is a profoundly malevolent regime that threatens us all, and whose first victims are the Iranian people themselves.
“Canada will continue to urge the international community to show steadfast resolve on Iran in the days ahead.
“Meanwhile, the Iranian ally in Syria is locked in a bloody war with its own people.
“And herein lies a grotesque dilemma: decent people agree that Assad must go,
that Syria’s government must represent all its people, including its minorities.
“Yet the extremist, sectarian nature of much of the opposition cannot be ignored
or wished away.
“Syria cannot be allowed to become another safe haven for the hydra-heads
“Such monsters already lurk far too close to home, as we have seen in the murder
of Drummer Rigby, God rest his soul and bless his family, and the foiled plot in Canada to sabotage a Via Rail express.
“Now of course, not every global challenge is one of security, nor should every response be military in nature.
“Even as we deal with the economic challenges our citizens face at home, we should never compare our problems with the brutal deprivation that is the daily reality for still far too many of our fellow human beings in much of the world.
“In Canada, we take pride in our leadership, begun at Muskoka in 2010, to reduce
the appalling mortality among children and young mothers in the developing world.
“And, Prime Minister, we salute you and your government for the fact that, even as you have grappled with enormous budgetary pressures, you have continued
your world-leading efforts in so many areas of humanitarian and development assistance.
“We also fully support your initiative to help ensure that the citizens of emerging economies get a fair deal when others develop their resources.
“That is why I announced yesterday, in advance of the G-8, that Canada will establish new mandatory reporting standards for the payments Canadian extractive companies make to governments foreign and domestic.
“We also firmly believe in the principle that widespread prosperity can only be achieved where there are stable, transparent governments, absent corruption,
and fortified by a respect for human rights and a commitment to the rule of law.
“We value all of these objectives for the world’s poorest.
“But, make no mistake, if we wish to spread prosperity to others, we must be
“Without prosperity, there can be no aid.
“Indeed, without prosperity, we will have little ability to project any of our values anywhere.
“And, of course, we cannot hope to effectively spread these values unless we live by them ourselves and demonstrate our own success by virtue of doing so.
“Lord Speaker, Mr. Speaker, distinguished guests, I believe this is the challenge we face in the West today.
“There are massive shifts, shifts of epic dimensions, taking place in the world economy.
“To the extent this means that traditionally less fortunate people are beginning to enjoy prosperity, and the other fruits of our values, much of this is a good thing.
“But there are also, as there have always been, rising powers that do not share our values, and dangerous forces that seek to destroy them.
“We cannot, in the face of this, be at all complacent or, as I have said elsewhere,
We cannot entertain the notion, as I think some in the West do, that our wealth and influence
can be assumed, that they are some kind of birthright.
“I know, Prime Minister, that neither of our governments think that, which is why we take the difficult decisions we do, to ensure our people will remain among the most fortunate and prosperous for the generations to come.
“But, just as we cannot be complacent about our wealth, neither can we allow our peoples, in these times of tough decisions and shifting fortunes, to become fatalistic.
“I mentioned some leaders of earlier generations.
“Prime Ministers Churchill and King.
“Certainly they would never, in the depths of war, countenance any notion
of inevitable defeat, indeed, Churchill’s words against any such thinking
are among the most powerful ever uttered in the English language.
“But perhaps the more relevant example today is that of Mrs. Thatcher, who, in a time of peace, refused to accept any suggestion of inevitable decline.
“She did so, not as an expression of good cheer, but as a matter of resolve and action, and so in her time Britain rose once more.
“In fact, I would say that dealing with difficult times and moving forward is what our two countries do, have often done together, and have done very well.
“And go on, we shall, to prosper and to lead, if we are true to our values, and unshakably resolved not to fail.
“Lord Speaker, Mr. Speaker, distinguished guests, you have been generous with your time.
“So, let me just close with this.
“Some years after Prime Minister King delivered his speech here the people of Canada sent you a gift, the handsome table gracing the floor of your House of Commons, part of an allied effort to rebuild the chamber after the damages of war.
“A gift, no doubt, to remind you of the defence of Britain by Canadians done, from the outset, voluntarily and passionately, not simply out of the value of friendship, but also because of the friendship of values.
“I ask that, if you happen to find yourselves looking at that table, think of us in Canada.
“Perhaps not your most powerful friends, but your truest and most reliable and know, that as we tackle the great challenges of this and future eras.
“We shall face them together, always, and we will succeed.
“Thank you very much.”
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