Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11, In Memoriam

This will be my only post today. Remember the victims, and never forget how you felt on September 11, 2001.


UPDATE (10:41 a.m.)

Here is the text of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's address to the Australian Parliament, in which he touches on 9/11 (I have bold-faced the relevant portion of his speech).

Prime Minister Harper addresses Australian parliament in Canberra, Australia
11 September 2007


The Honourable David Hawker, Speaker of the House; The Honourable Alan Ferguson, President of the Senate; The Honourable John Howard, Prime Minister; The Honourable Kevin Rudd, Leader of the Opposition; Distinguished Representatives and Senators of the Parliament of Australia; Ladies and gentlemen:

Mr. Speaker:

It is an honour and a privilege for me to be the first Prime Minister to address your Parliament on behalf of the people of Canada. Laureen and I have been utterly and completely charmed by the warm Australian hospitality we have encountered every step of the way on this, our first visit together to your wonderful country. Thank you for all your kindness. I’d like to begin by congratulating the Government and people of Australia on hosting such a successful APEC Summit. In particular, the progress made toward forging a new international consensus on energy and environmental policy is a credit to the unity and good will of all APEC members and, especially, to the chairmanship and leadership of Australia.

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to reciprocate Prime Minister Howard’s visit to Canada last year. His address to a joint session of our Parliament was a warm and eloquent tribute to the deep friendship between our nations. I believe that the warmth and closeness of our relationship today is a remarkable thing. For it was not born of proximity or necessity.We started at opposite ends of the earth. Our dreams guided by the North Star, yours by the Southern Cross. Australia was born in English, Canada in French – at Quebec City four hundred years ago next year – reflected to this day by the presence of Francophones and the “Quebecois nation” within our united country.

But even after Canada came under the British Crown, for centuries our countries doggedly pursued their own destinies. Ultimately, it was through our shared values that we discovered our true kinship. The epic struggles of the twentieth century – against imperialism, fascism and communism – pitted us against the common enemies that threatened our greater civilization. Though our troops rarely fought on the same battlefield, Canadians and Australians fought for the same ideals. And, of course, in the First World War, the spark of our national identities was lit: Ours at Vimy Ridge, yours at Gallipoli. In these great national tests and those ever since, our familial bonds have been renewed and strengthened. We have become like cousins – “strategic cousins” in the words of your military historian John Blaxland.

Today, despite the vast distance between us, Canada and Australia follow remarkably similar paths. We have built on the enduring strengths which we inherited from our European ancestors, added the common experience of multicultural, immigrant nations,And sought to achieve reconciliation with our first peoples.

Of course, Canada and Australia have also both borrowed and adapted the traditions and institutions of British government and American federalism.I can’t help but notice, however, that you have done a much better job than us with at least one of our Westminster institutions, the Upper House. As one Canadian political scientist I know likes to say, when we look at Australia, we suffer from “Senate envy.”Because in Canada, Senators remain appointed, not elected.They don’t have to retire until age 75, and may warm their seats for as long as 45 years. By the nature of the system, they’re not accountable to voters. So it’s a rare pleasure for me to be among Senators who are actually elected by the people they represent.

The mandate to govern, when it is given to you directly by the people, is a great honour and a great responsibility. It’s the very essence of responsible government, and it is the minimum condition of 21st century democracy. Australia’s Senate shows how a reformed Upper House can function in our parliamentary system. And Canadians understand that our Senate, as it stands today, must either change or, like the old Upper Houses of our provinces, vanish. But Canada and Australia can not only learn from one another, we have much to offer others. We are stable, prosperous, peaceful democracies. We are free, open, pluralistic societies.

At home, we share an overriding belief in giving all of our citizens “a fair go”. That’s why we have a large and growing middle class to which hundreds of millions of people in the developing world aspire to belong. Abroad, we are committed to free and fair trade, helping those in need and defending global security.We have fought and sacrificed for just causes, but we have neither the capacity nor the will to conquer or to dominate.We are fast friends of, but fiercely proud of our differences with, our other strategic cousin -- the United States.

In sum, our two countries genuinely aspire to the highest ideals of civilization, however imperfectly we achieve them. For all these reasons, Canada and Australia are uniquely able to serve as a force for positive change in the world. And we should commit ourselves to the service of that cause. Together.

I do not suggest or embrace this duty lightly. It is guided, in part, by the sombre anniversary we’re marking today. September 11, 2001, was truly a day that shook the world. Six years on, the horrific images from that morning still evoke anger, sorrow and – as intended – terror. The buildings may have been American, but the targets were every one of us: every country and every person who chooses tolerance over hatred, pluralism over extremism, democracy over tyranny. We have been struck again and again in London, Madrid, India and many other places, including, of course, Bali.

Canadians mourned your losses, and we redoubled our resolve to stand with you, because two dozen of our citizens died in New York on 9-11. And seventy Canadian soldiers and one of our diplomats have fallen in Afghanistan – as well as a Canadian carpenter, murdered by the Taliban after he built a school for the children of a remote Afghan village. So both our countries have been bloodied by terror. And both of us are doing our part to confront and defeat it. In Afghanistan and elsewhere, both our countries are committed to working together, as Prime Minister Howard said in his address to our Parliament last year “not only for the betterment of Australia and Canada, but for the betterment of all the peoples of the world.”

This cause is noble and necessary. Because, as 9-11 showed, if we abandon our fellow human beings to lives of poverty, brutality and ignorance, in today’s global village their misery will eventually and inevitably become our own. And, friends, we should not underestimate either our capacity to influence events or to influence others. At enormous human and financial cost, we have built solid reputations as defenders of freedom, democracy and human rights. We’ve worked closely to build multilateral institutions and establish international law. Our peacekeepers and peacemakers have saved countless millions from war and devastation. Our aid programs and relief workers have helped poor countries across the globe improve the lives of their citizens.

And our histories have set an inspiring example. That is symbolized by this great institution. This Parliament, like our own, enjoys a continuous democratic tradition rarely equalled in the history of the world. Unbroken by tyranny or conquest. Unbroken by civil war or social disorder. What an extraordinary achievement that is. We were buffeted by the same forces of economic depression, social unrest and political tension that drove other countries over the brink into political authoritarianism, economic collapse and much worse. So, why not us? I leave it to historians to debate the details.

For me, two strengths shine clearly above all the rest: Our democratic spirit and our devotion to equality of opportunity. Democracy is more than free elections, as essential as they are; it is a conviction, a habit of mind, an instinctive sense of fairness, self-restraint and compromise. Our democratic spirit gives us the confidence to meet new challenges and strike out in new directions.

Equality of opportunity springs from the same principles. It’s about removing the roadblocks that prevent others from getting ahead in life. Creating the economic conditions that reward hard work. Providing a safety net and access to social services. And keeping taxes low and fair for everybody. In recent years, both our economies have enjoyed strong growth. Australia has been on a prosperous roll for a decade. Never think that this happened by accident. It had everything to do with prudent policy choices. Far-sighted leadership, and careful fiscal management.

I believe that one of the great dangers facing both our countries today is complacency about the economy – complacency because many of our citizens have long forgotten, or have never experienced, economic recession. But we cannot take our continued prosperity for granted. We face unprecedented new competition from rising economic giants like China and India. It’s more important than ever to make the right, sometimes difficult, policy choices, because the wrong choices could unravel our progress and prosperity far more quickly than many would like to believe. And the world needs us to continue to serve as powerful models of prosperous and compassionate societies, independent yet open to the world. That is the Canadian and the Australian way.

It’s evident in our collaboration within the World Trade Organization – our work for a successful and ambitious outcome that will lead to freer and fairer trade for developed and developing countries alike. It’s evident in our shared efforts, demonstrated at APEC, towards effective international action on climate change – action that seeks to balance economic and environmental imperatives and thus to realistically engage all the world’s major emitters. And it’s evident in our leading roles in the security and development in the provinces of southern Afghanistan.

It’s a great comfort to our troops in Kandahar to know that there will soon be a thousand Aussie soldiers next door in the province of Uruzgan. And I know that our soldiers greatly admire the solidarity that all parties in this Parliament have shown in support of this United Nations mission.

As technology, trade and, yes, the threat of terrorism, make our world smaller and smaller, Canada and Australia are growing closer and closer. Two-way investment between our countries hit 12 billion dollars last year. 200,000 Australians visit Canada every year. 100,000 Canadians come here, the vast majority are young people. As often as not, when you get on a ski lift at one of our mountain resorts, a cheerful attendant will welcome you in that distinctive Aussie accent. This annual pilgrimage of young people between Down Under and the True North augurs well for even closer relations between our countries in the future.

That’s why I’m so pleased to report that our governments have just concluded an agreement to renew and expand our student working vacation program. This will give more young Canadians and Australians opportunities to visit each other’s countries, and to widen the personal relations that increasingly bind our nations as family. In my experience, our people feel equally at home in both our countries. We both appreciate the God-given beauty of our vast natural landscapes. We understand, unlike few other nations, that real football isn’t a game played with only the feet. With familiarity, we learn to appreciate each other’s versions of the game.

And, Prime Minister, I promise you that, if I can get you to a top-level ice hockey game, you will see why you should never again propose that I watch cricket. Ladies and gentlemen, in the course of our week-long visit to Australia, I heard a suggestion for a new metaphor to describe the relationship between our two countries. Bookends. Spaced well apart, but holding together a vast store of knowledge and experience – not just for ourselves, but for all those who aspire to share it.

But perhaps the comparison to family is still the best one. As proof, let me conclude with an amusing anecdote from one of my predecessors, Lester Pearson. In the 1940s, when he was a young diplomat in Ottawa, he one day found himself with your Prime Minister J.B. Chifley, the young Princess Elizabeth and her infant son Charles. At the time, Canada-Australia relations were, I gather, in somewhat strained condition, so when Pearson wrote of the encounter in his diary he said and I quote: “(I) hope that relations…were not further disturbed by the fact that I was able to make the baby laugh while Chifley was not.” That sounds like a family to me.

Thank you. God bless our great nations.


UPDATE (8:37 p.m.): George Roper has a fabulous 9/11 Post, which can be found on his blog: http://gmroper.mu.nu/


Michael said...

We must never forget.

Interesting speech.

Anonymous said...

BHG, thanks for the reminder that not everyone in the West has lost their minds. Well done friend, good catch! I linked to you!

Serket said...

I wish President Bush knew this much about Australia so he didn't seem like an idiot while visiting.