(Prime Minister of Canada): Thank you Michelle for the
warm welcome. Hello everyone. I know that we have many distinguished guests in the room,
and I’d like to thank you all for being here today to welcome a very special guest
to Canada. Taoiseach Kenny, on behalf of all Canadians,
welcome to Montréal, to my hometown, and to Canada. It’s an honour to have you here
with us today. I’m especially pleased that we’re able to spend some time together right
here in Montréal. It’s my hometown, for starters. I wouldn’t have the privilege
of sharing the stage with you this afternoon if it wasn’t for the residents of the District
of Papineau, who vested their trust in me for many years now.
Montréal serves as a great example of the way in which our two countries, Canada and
Ireland, are so deeply connected. The first wave of Irish immigrants arrived here in Montréal
in the first half of the 19th Century, and it wasn’t quite the same city it is today.
At that time, it was a small trading town. Because it’s on an island, it was at the
mercy of the weather, since the only way to get goods in and out was by boat. But despite
these difficult conditions, thousands of Irish immigrants chose to settle in Montréal. It
is where they decided to set down roots, raise their families and recapture the sense of
belonging to their community that they had in Ireland.
These newcomers from Ireland chose one of the most beautiful cities in Canada, and they
contributed to making it a true metropolis. Irish-Canadian workers were involved in the
construction of some of the most ambitious infrastructure projects at the time. First
the Lachine Canal, and later Victoria Bridge, important trade links that would link Montréal
to the markets of North America and the rest of the world.
Irish and Irish-Canadian lawyers and entrepreneurs became key figures of Montréal’s business
community, while others chose to enter politics and were successful mayors and premiers. Those
who came from Ireland brought with them the qualities that Irish people are known for
around the world: ingenuity, hard work and of course a passion for life.
And they passed these qualities on to their daughters and sons, and then their granddaughters
and grandsons, and even today we are still benefitting from their many contributions.
The McCord Museum, St. Patrick’s Basilica, the neighbourhood of Griffintown, the Black
Rock that commemorates the lives of those who perished on their journey from Ireland
to Canada. And, yes, the Lachine Canal and the Victoria Bridge, now landmarks in this
city that so many of us are so proud to call home. Over the centuries, millions of Irish
immigrants and their descendants made Canada their home, and we are all better for it.
Stronger culturally. You need look no further than events across Canada, like the annual
Miramichi Irish Festival in New Brunswick, to know that the Irish culture is alive and
well in all corners of our country. As you’ve heard me say once or twice before, it’s
diversity that makes this country so strong. Stronger politically. Our mutual respect for
democratic values guides both our governance and the way we approach the world. Together,
Ireland and Canada continue to work harder to create better opportunities for the middle
class and those working hard to join it. And stronger economically, too. Most recently
our collaboration bore fruit when Irish and Canadian officials worked alongside our European
partners to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Throughout the lengthy
negotiation process, Ireland and Taoiseach Kenny were steadfast supporters of this historic
trade deal. So I want to thank him once again for his
leadership in helping to secure this truly progressive agreement that will
create more opportunities for citizens on both sides of the Atlantic.
Taoiseach Kenny and I agree that to grow our economies, we need a strong middle class.
We believe that businesses should have access to new markets to export their goods and services,
and that consumers should pay a fair price at the cash register. We both believe that
when trade agreements are well designed, they can create jobs, stimulate economic growth
and lead to greater prosperity. CETA is one such agreement, and that is why
we both supported its ratification and promoted it. An ambitious and truly comprehensive deal, CETA is an excellent agreement for Canada
and for its European partners. It will increase trade by opening up new markets and create
good, well-paying middle class jobs for citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. But what makes
CETA a truly progressive agreement and I would argue a model for all future global trade
deals is the fact that it is very much in line with the values of the countries involved.
It contains provisions on labour protection, the environment, responsible investment, food
and consumer safety, and the management of natural resources.
The ratification of CETA was a crucial step toward creating real, meaningful growth that
will benefit everyone, and it would not have been possible without the help and support
of Taioseach Kenny, his officials, and of all our European partners.
And we got here through understanding that both Canada and the EU want most what is best
for all our peoples. We want hard-working, middle class families to make a fair wage
and comfortably support future generations. We want our kids to have every opportunity
that we didn’t have. We want future generations to enjoy a higher standard of living, stronger
communities and greater prosperity. And with this partnership, we’re well on our way.
Canada and Ireland have delivered a trade agreement that we can all be proud of. CETA
might be the latest proof of what we can accomplish when we work together, but I know it will
not be the last. Canada and Ireland will continue to deepen our close ties and create more opportunities
for the middle class. It is my hope that we will continue to work closely on our shared
priorities including our desire to be global leaders in innovation and to build better
societies that work for everyone, not just the top 1%.
This is how we will continue to move forward not only as close partners but as true friends.
And Canadians across the country are reminded of this special bond when they look at the
names of our streets, or hear the last name of their neighbours, or stop to watch Montréal’s
famous St. Patrick’s Day parade. Once again, thank you for being here today.
Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Taoiseach Kenny. Ladies and gentlemen, please
welcome Taoiseach Enda Kenny. (Applause)