Official visit to Canada: Speech at Rideau Hall, Ottawa
C’est un grand plaisir d'être ici au Canada, dans cette salle magnifique, où la Princesse Héritière et moi profitons de votre hospitalité généreuse.
Canadians and Norwegians seem to have a lot in common and enjoy each other’s company. I have experienced this many times – on different international arenas:
Canadians and Norwegians seem to understand each other, and seek each other out in a multicultural crowd. One reason may be that we both are countries situated far north. Another may be our relationship to nature. The climate is somehow similar in our two countries – and that effects our national character. But most importantly, I believe our close relations are built on a shared belief in fundamental values – democracy, human rights and respect for international law.
During their State Visit in 2002, my parents, the King and Queen, planted a tree in the beautiful gardens of Rideau Hall. As we saw for ourselves a short while ago, the tree is thriving. The gift that the Crown Princess and I were presented with is a concrete sign that our collaboration has borne fruit.
Your Excellency, Governor General, in your book The Idea of Canada – Letters to a Nation you describe your country as inclusive, honourable, selfless, smart and caring. These are ideals that both our nations aspire to. By joining forces we can help each other to realize them.
A love of the great outdoors is one of the ties that unite us. Norwegians take skiing seriously. Indeed, the person who brought cross-country skiing to North America was a Norwegian. For his efforts Herman Smith-Johannsen was given the Order of Canada. Mr Smith-Johannesen is, I believe, better known in Canada by his nickname “Jackrabbit”. The name was supposedly given him by the First Nations Cree – who were impressed by his speed on skis.
During the hundred years that have passed since Jackrabbit’s days, there are many people who have had great fun on skis in the Canadian mountains – including myself.
Norwegian explorers have braved the Canadian wilderness, from Leif Eriksson to Roald Amundsen and more modern day adventurers.
The ties between our countries have been reinforced by the number of Norwegians who emigrated to Canada during the past two centuries. For them, Canada was a land of new opportunities and the gateway to a new life. More than 400,000 people of Norwegian descent now live in Canada.
Some 70 years ago, my grandparents and my father – who was just a young boy at the time – saw for themselves the contribution Canada was making to allied war efforts during World War II. Norway is forever grateful for your sacrifice during those difficult years.
Today Norway and Canada cooperate closely on a wide range of international issues.
Canada is consistently ranked as one of the best countries in the world to start up a company. And we know that entrepreneurship, innovation and business development are key if we are to remain competitive in a globalized economy.
Both our countries have an abundance of resources such as oceans, forests, oil and gas. At the same time, we must ensure that sustainable development in the Arctic also benefits the peoples of the north. Research, technological advances and international cooperation are key to a successful development of the Arctic region for current and future generations.
In conclusion, I would like to go back to the gift of the red oak seedling – and the tree my parents planted back in 2002. A tree is a symbol of the patience needed to attain goals over long periods of time. It represents perseverance and hard work.
These are recognizable Canadian characteristics. The strong and broad ties between our two nations reflect these characteristics. I hope this visit will further deepen these bonds and stimulate collaboration in new areas.
The Crown Princess and I look forward to exploring how Norway and Canada can further strengthen our cooperation in the coming days – in Ottawa, Toronto and in St. John’s.
I invite you to join me in a toast to continued friendship and collaboration between Norway and Canada.