Governor General of Canada

Governor General of Canada

December 14, 2009 16:06 ET

Media Advisory: Governor General Delivers a Speech at the Costa Rican Congress

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 14, 2009) - Their Excellencies the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, and her husband Mr. Jean-Daniel Lafond arrived in the Republic of Costa Rica on December 12 to conduct a three-day State visit. Today, the Governor General will deliver an address to the Costa Rican Congress in San Jose, at 4:30 p.m. (local time)

During a plenary session at the Legislative Assembly, Her Excellency will highlight the strong and varied relations anchored by the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement:

"We are delighted to have a partner like Costa Rica and to work tirelessly together in the hope of guiding the stable and peaceful development of this continent, which we share from north to south," said the Governor General.

About the State visit to the Republic of Costa Rica -December 12 to 15, 2009

During the visit, the Governor General will host a Youth Dialogue as part of her national and international initiative to inspire young people around the world to become catalysts of change and to connect them with decision makers.

Follow the State visits to Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica through the speeches, photos and videos available daily at Blogs written by Their Excellencies and the delegates are posted on

UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 5:30 P.M. (EASTERN STANDARD TIME) Address from the Governor General at the Costa Rican Congress on December 14, 2009:

Thank you very much for allowing me the honour of addressing the members of Costa Rica's Congress.

On the map of the Americas, and especially in Central America, Costa Rica is considered one of the most extensive, daring experiments.

An experiment that started as a gamble and consists of betting on peace in a highly militarized region, and inextricably linking this path towards peace to democratization and environmental protection.

In fact, when accepting his 1987 Nobel peace prize, President Oscar Arias Sánchez himself said that peace was "a process which never ends."

Peace, he continued, "is an attitude, a way of life, a way of solving problems and of resolving conflicts."

We share this same conviction, and a joint commitment to increase security, improve prosperity and promote democratic values across the entire hemisphere.

This commitment to the Americas is, in fact, one of the cornerstones of Canada's foreign policy.

And we are delighted to have a partner like Costa Rica and to work tirelessly together in the hope of guiding the stable and peaceful development of this continent, which we share from north to south.

Moreover, Costa Rica and Canada often work together on the international stage, and we applaud the determination with which Costa Rica defends human rights and fights for peace, security and justice in international forums.

In this regard, Costa Rica is a source of inspiration for all of humanity at a time when constant vigilance is required to resolve conflicts and fight barbarism.

I would also like to point out our bilateral co-operation within the Organization of American States to find a peaceful and viable solution to the conflict raging in Honduras.

This consensus of views makes us key partners, and our trading relationship will only continue to expand, thanks to the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement that came into force in November 2002.

Moreover, I am proud to say that Costa Rica is continuing to win over the hearts of Canadians; over 10,000 Canadians live in Costa Rica and another 100,000 travel here every year.

There is a proven solidarity between us and a clear friendship.

And I believe it is in that same spirit that we should continue to work together-for the good of our peoples-to strengthen the Americas' position in the current era of globalization and to reinforce our solidarity in light of the global challenges we are facing, like the deterioration of our ecosystems.

Costa Rica's commitment in this regard is admirable, and we also believe it is essential to put a new world order in place that promotes the transfer of assistance, information and technologies to face the challenge of climate change together, as President Sánchez himself said to the United Nations General Assembly in September.

This concern for the environment is not surprising-but no less admirable-from a country that contains close to five per cent of the world's biodiversity, has devoted twenty-five per cent of its territory to national parks and ecological preserves, and has successfully stopped deforestation.

And just as we need to protect its territory-which is extremely rich in resources of all kinds-we need to recognize and protect the diversity of cultures in the Americas.

The history of this continent, we must remember, did not begin with the arrival of Christopher Columbus.

On the contrary, the First Nations-as we call them in Canada-are the keepers of great civilizations that have enriched humanity's heritage and will continue to do so, if given the means.

These First Nations are our deepest roots in this continent.

It is also our responsibility to remember that America was built on the blood and sweat of our deported ancestors from Africa.

It is in this spirit of openness and celebration of hemispheric diversity and of our mixed cultures that I-a woman with Caribbean blood running through her veins-went to Peurto Limon, Costa Rica's largest Caribbean port.

I witnessed the countless efforts being made by young people, women and men who want to fight social exclusion and its most dreaded results, like despair and crime.

I believe this is a huge challenge that is inextricably linked to our joint commitment to defend the democratic values of justice and equality in the Americas, a commitment that is echoed in the motto I chose when I became Governor General of Canada echoes this commitment: "Breaking down solitudes."

Yes, breaking down the solitudes between us, regardless of what form they take or where they exist in the world, in our countries and in our communities.

As I said recently to UNESCO's Executive Board in Paris, the time has come, dear friends, for us to rally the people of our societies, people like you and to form new, much-desired-if not essential-pacts of solidarity and to herald their promises.

Our shared desire to make the Americas a peaceful, open place that believes in solidarity and is open to all the world's promises urgently requires an ethic of sharing that embraces the full extent of the human experience.

This is the only way to sow in our present lives the promises of a better future for all.

A bright future through which, to reword a beautiful expression by the Costa Rican poet, Laureano Albán, new light reflects the light of the past.

Thank you very much for graciously offering me this unique opportunity to say a few words. I wish you all much happiness and prosperity.

Long live the friendship between Canada and Costa Rica!

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