Investiture Ceremony of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces
Rideau Hall, Friday, June 5, 2009
As Chancellor of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Rideau Hall.
Too often, we take for granted things that are impossible in so many regions around the world.
Walking down the street without always being on alert, afraid of being attacked, raped or even killed.
Expressing ourselves without fear of reprisals, even if our opinion is contrary to that of those in power.
Getting help when we are in trouble.
Knowing that justice is served and that our fundamental rights are protected.
We owe so much of the security and freedom that is abundant in this country to the high ethical standards of our police forces, to their professionalism and their commitment.
To their compassion and their willingness to work for the greater good.
And to the codes they have to follow to ensure good conduct and good governance.
Every aspect of our lives depends on it.
I know whereof I speak, as I grew up under the yoke of a merciless dictatorship.
You play an essential role in our society.
And it is even more essential these days, when the great majority of us live in cities, and we face new and changing realities.
For example, we are confronted with situations in which exclusion can push young people towards crime and street gangs.
And you must react instantly, under conditions that are often dangerous.
It is therefore important—if not essential—that you have a good understanding of the communities in which you work, an understanding that goes beyond prejudices and popular beliefs.
These days, the challenges we face are becoming increasingly complex, requiring you to have a great capacity to adapt.
Just consider the sophistication of crime, the ramifications of which are becoming global. I am referring, among other things, to the dangerous means people use to lure youth, child pornography on the Internet and cyber predators, as well as threats to our national security and the trafficking of drugs, arms and people.
Crime no longer recognizes any borders and to fight it, you must now work with police forces at all levels all over the world.
Collaboration is absolutely vital.
These are situations that require you to do, see and think things differently.
I know that our police forces do not take these issues lightly, that they tackle them perceptively, diligently, fairly and creatively.
We certainly expect a lot from you.
In addition to being public and peace officers, you are sometimes called upon to play the role of community workers, psychologists, teachers, mediators, first responders in emergency situations, and so many others.
And it is precisely because you have performed your duties in such an exemplary manner—going above and beyond what was expected of you—that you are being invested into this prestigious Order today.
Canadians all across the country recognize this and hold you in the highest esteem.
Each of you has distinguished himself or herself in the line of duty.
You have displayed exceptional merit throughout your careers and you are to be commended, as all of society has benefitted.
On behalf of your fellow citizens, I would like to extend our most heartfelt thanks for all that you do.
Thank you very much.