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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Acceptance Speech
September 27, 2012
New York
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Acceptance Speech Good Evening,
Rabbi Schneier,
My colleagues,
Ministers Baird, Kent, Fantino, and Ablonczy,
Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai,
Senator Wallin,
Ambassadors Doer and Rishchynski,
High Commissioner Campbell,
Consul General Prato
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First, I would like to thank Henry Kissinger for that generous introduction.

Dr. Kissinger, I am not only aware of your immense contributions to your country and its international relations; I have long been one of your admirers … Since, indeed, before I was old enough to vote … so being able to share the stage with you and to be introduced by you means a great deal to me.

I also want to thank you, Rabbi Schneier, for the fact that we are all here tonight.

I don’t just refer to this large and impressive gathering … but more particularly to the cause for which you have brought it together.

In a globe of complex and competing interests, it is far too easy to set aside the silent and subtle appeals of the conscience …

But, if we do, the world is lost.

You have made it your life’s work to take the horrors of your own experience and to use them o remind us of something truly hopeful: the freedom and human dignity of every person.

And so you have our admiration and our appreciation!

Mesdames et Messieurs,
c’est sur ces fondations
– de liberté et de dignité humaine –
que le Canada cherche, dans un monde incertain …
à élaborer une politique étrangère qui repose sur des
principes certains.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is upon this foundation - of freedom and human dignity - that Canada seeks, in an uncertain world to articulate a foreign policy built on certain principles.

These principles are rooted in our own country’s ancient heritage and long practice of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

But it is more than that.

En ce qui a trait aux affaires étrangères, il existe un vaste consensus parmi les Canadiens et les Canadiennes … un esprit de générosité … que l’on pourrait décrire comme un simple désir de jouer franc jeu.

On foreign affairs, there is a widely shared consensus among Canadians … a generosity of spirit … that one might describe as a simple desire for fair play.

We, Canadians, for example, are very conscious of our own sovereignty and expect our governments to make pragmatic decisions in Canada’s national interest.

But we also want them to be good world citizens, to try to understand other points of view, and to act in concert with our partners, for the wider interests of humanity.

That is, of course, not the same thing as trying to court every dictator with a vote at the United Nations or just going along with every international consensus, no matter how self-evidently wrong-headed.

Lorsque nous devons faire face au mal, nous adoptons dans nos affaires des positions fortes … fondées sur nos principes, qu’elles soient populaires ou non.

When confronted with evil, we take strong, principled positions in our dealings, whether popular or not.

And that is what the world has counted on - and received - from Canada, in two world wars, in Korea, in a generation of peacekeeping operations, Gulf War One, and most recently in Afghanistan and in Libya.

Finally, Canadians are proud, fiercely proud, of the reputation we have established for both a competitive economy and a compassionate society … and for the unparalleled combination of cultural diversity and social harmony … which draws to us people of all nations.

En un mot, mesdames et messieurs, je me présente ici ce soir pour accepter votre prix, non en raison de mes qualités personnelles … Mais au nom du pays unique et magnifique que j’ai le privilège de diriger.

In short, ladies and gentlemen, I come here tonight and accept your award, not for any qualities of my own …but on behalf of the unique and magnificent country I have the privilege of leading!

Among the many assets of Canada is its neighbourhood.

That is to say, Canada has only one real neighbour, and it is the best neighbour any nation could possibly have.

This year, we in Canada are marking the bicentennial of the last war between our two countries … the war that effectively established our independence.

That our comparatively small country has since lived in secure peace and growing prosperity for almost two centuries is a testament to the enduring strength and essential benevolence of the United States of America.

So thank you for our great partnership and for your unwavering friendship.

And allow me in this vein to offer you our unequivocal condemnation and outrage over the recent anti-American riots around your embassies and the deadly attack upon your consulate in Libya …

And the deep sympathies of the Canadian people for all who lost friends and loved ones in that violent event.

Nous condamnons sans équivoque les récentes émeutes antiaméricaines survenues devant vos ambassades … et nous exprimons nos sincères condoléances à ceux et celles qui ont perdu des amis et des proches à la suite de l’attaque meurtrière dont votre consulat en Libye a été la cible.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings me to a brief reflection on the state of the world in which we live.

I referred a few moments ago to our uncertain world.

What are the uncertainties and what are their consequences?

The years through which we are now passing seem to be times of extraordinary change, as if some great hand is spinning the wheel of history.

Nations with a history of shared values, like our friends in Europe, are weighed down by debts they cannot seem to control, by entitlements they can no longer afford, and by sluggish economies that show few signs of growth.

Meanwhile, new powers are rising, whose commitments to our ideals are often neither firm nor clear.

What appears to some a hopeful spring for democracy quickly becomes an angry summer of populism.

Old resentments seem to come back to life, energizing groups who advocate terror, and dangerous, rogue states seek nuclear weapons.

Of course, these global changes sometimes present global opportunities. The world is probably a freer and more democratic place today than at any point in my lifetime.

Yet, paradoxically, rarely has the future of the free and democratic world been less secure.

As I said, some new powers are neither sure friends nor implacable foes. Because these are perhaps the hardest to evaluate, I will not elaborate on them here, other than to say it is ever important in interacting with them that we clearly understand and always remember what we are dealing with.

Other countries, however, constitute unambiguously a clear and present danger and thus demand a very sober assessment.

First among these is the Government of Iran.

I speak not merely of its appalling record of human rights abuse or its active assistance to the brutal regime in Syria or its undeniable support of terrorist entities or its determined pursuit of nuclear weapons …

Rather, it is the combination of all these things with a truly malevolent ideology.

Je crois que la voix de notre conscience nous oblige à dénoncer ce que le régime iranien défend et représente.

De la même façon qu’elle nous oblige à exprimer notre soutien à l’égard du pays le plus directement visé par la haine que nourrit ce régime, soit l’État d’Israël.

I believe that the appeal of our conscience requires us to speak out against what the Iranian regime stands for. It likewise requires us to speak in support of the country that its hatred most immediately threatens the State of Israel.

In supporting Israel, we don’t sanction every policy its government pursues. When, however, it is the one country of the global community whose very existence is threatened, our government does refuse to use international fora to single out Israel for criticism.

And it is important to state, that whatever Israel’s shortcomings, neither its existence nor its policies are responsible for the pathologies present in that part of the world.

We are also mindful of the lesson of history: That those who single out the Jewish people as a target of racial and religious bigotry will inevitably be a threat to all of us.

Indeed, those who so target Israel today are, by their own words and deeds, also a threat to all free and democratic societies.

I say these things not to counsel any particular action, not to wish any additional hardship on the long-suffering Iranian people, and certainly not to advocate war, but rather so that we not shrink from recognizing evil in the world for what it is. Our Government simply contends that the international community must do more to further pressure and isolate this regime.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude with this.

We should never consider others evil merely because they disagree with us or because they compete with us.

But where evil dominates, you will invariably find irreconcilable disagreement with the ideals that animate Canada, America and like-minded nations . . .

. . les idéaux selon lesquels toutes les personnes sont investies de la dignité humaine et devraient se voir accorder les mêmes droits …

. . . the ideals which assert that all people possess human dignity and should be accorded equal rights.

It is not for Canada to lecture others, but it is the responsibility of our Government to make the choices that circumstances force upon us.

First, we shall choose our friends well, and our true friends are those who to their core, both respect the will of their majority, and the rights of their minorities.

Second, we shall deal openly and fairly with those who may not be our true friends, but we will not deceive ourselves about those relationships, and we shall not sacrifice our guiding principles in the interests of some transient advantage.

Third, we shall endeavour to recognize clear and unequivocal threats, and we shall speak out against them when they stand before us.

Finally, we shall strive to manage our own house - our economy and our finances - in such a way that our own freedom of action is not compromised.

Car nous devons nous souvenir que les idéaux que nous défendons … ont peut être une valeur inestimable, mais ils ne sont pas invincibles. Ils exigent de nos pays une forte vigilance et une bonne gouvernance.

Because we must remember that the ideals for which we stand may be invaluable, but they are not invincible.

They require our countries to be vigilant and well governed, and they require us to forever impress their privileged nature upon successive generations.

We must therefore hold to them ourselves and teach them to our children.
We must speak of democracy in our schools.
We must praise freedom as we go out and justice as we come in.
We must value our institutions and their endurance.

And we must cherish the individual rights for which our ancestors bled, and inscribe upon our hearts the vision of citizens who know what it is to live without fear …

For in the end, that is the mark of liberty.

My friends, if we do these things, our nations shall endure, and will continue to inspire others …

And those of us to whom leadership has been entrusted will have done all that can be expected of them.

Thank you again for the honour of your invitation this evening.

Merci beaucoup.
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