Thank you Rick, John and David for your generous remarks and to His Excellency the Right Honorable David Johnston for this prestigious honor - which I, with great humility, accept.
To all of you here your presence has redoubled my sense of pride and pleasure.
A benefit of receiving an award is being alive to hear what presumably will be said at ones eulogy - perhaps even more beneficial is being given extra time to influence what is invoked in that eventuality.
My remarks will be brief - not quite as brief as one I heard recently - which was "Thank you very much, I deserve it." On receiving word that I would be bestowed this Medal has caused me to reflect on how immensely proud I am to be a citizen of this great nation. My parents chose well when they decided to make Canada their adapted home, and Canada chose well in inviting my family and the many others from all over the world to become its citizens. We have a wonderfully diverse cultural mosaic where our immigrants and their descendants now number in the majority and have significantly contributed to its development and prosperity.
Our National Anthem describes Canada as being - and encourages us to keep our Nation "Strong, Glorious and Free."
However powerful these words - they cannot fully convey the might of what they mean. Consider - The majesty of our geography from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Consider - The vastness of our rich and sustainable natural resources.
Consider - Our fertile and bountiful lands.
Consider - Our access to quality and advanced health care and education. In both all are considered equal and where wealth and station in life are not factors in the care we receive and the opportunities to advance.
Consider - Our solid financial structure which has become the envy and the benchmark standard of the world.
Consider Canada's high rankings amongst other developed countries in -quality of life - human development - democracy -economic freedom and environmental sustainability.
Consider - The strong sense of community in our municipalities - both urban and rural.
Consider - That the rights of all - regardless of race, religion, color, background and lifestyle - are respected and protected.
Consider - Our democracy and stable and progressive systems of governments and responsible political leaders where there are rare extreme partisan divides particularly on our shared values and in doing what is right for the betterment of all which is in stark contrast to our great neighbors south of the border, where the respect for politicians is close to single digit, because of the polarization and gridlock. It is sobering to realize that when citizens loose faith in their politicians - it puts democracy at risk.
Consider - The role we play on the World stage. Our heritage as protectors and peace keepers where there is and has been conflict - and the regeneration of nations that have fallen.
What we have and enjoy was not always thus - Canada like all of its citizens has not been and is not perfect - however what we continue to perfect is making right the wrongs of the past.
When we think in time - history has shown that as nations rise - they also can fall. In analyzing this - to a large measure great nations have fallen due to their citizens taking for granted what they have, a sense of invisibility, and an attitude of entitlement by those who have often at the expense of those who do not.
I have often asserted - While Canada enjoys a good reputation for giving, it is disproportionately low to what we have.
My aspiration for Canada is to be identified more by what we give than what we have and that giving becomes bed rocked as a cornerstone of our social platform and a source of national pride.
Having traveled the Globe and contrasted what we have to other countries has reinforced for me the requirement for us to play a bigger role in the sharing of our good fortune.
I have seen the extremes - the most jarring being The Republic of The Congo - where I spent time with MSF Dr's Without Borders - visiting their projects to witness the wonderful work they do and the impact they have - Scorched earth is an apt description of The Congo and it is impossible to reconcile what we have in Canada in every aspect of life - to what they do not.
I have made a personal commitment to give and getting back to the earlier reference to a eulogy - when the time comes - I will be most content with these few words - "He was a gentle man - with great resolve - who did everything he could to help human kind." Just imagine if the same can be said for all.
Thank you all and may The Almighty, through us, keep our great land - Strong, Glorious and Free.