Minister Kenney Congratulates Queen Elizabeth II on the Occasion of her Diamond JubileeJune 5, 2012
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise in celebration of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee.
We salute today the 60th anniversary of Canada’s Queen.
On June 2, 1953, Her Majesty was asked in the Coronation Oath, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Louis St. Laurent, and the Canadian delegation at Westminster Abbey, to “solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of”, among other realms, “Canada…according to their respective laws and customs”, This the Queen solemnly promised to do.
This solemn oath, made 60 years ago in the presence of the Canadian prime minister and officials, the Queen has upheld to the fullness of her considerable ability and with the magnificent charm and grace for which Her Majesty is known throughout the world.
How many peoples around the world, torn apart by war and corruption at the highest level, would rather be in Canada, where we have stable institutions, peace and good government by the head of state, the Crown? How many sensible people have observed with envy the strength, dedicated perseverance and great wisdom of our most gracious head of state?
Two years ago, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh made their 22nd official visit to Canada. They have met more Canadians and shaken more hands and opened more events and institutions than even the most experienced members of this House can claim to have done in their long career.
She has served as Colonel-in-Chief, Captain General and doyenne of the captains of proud regiments, including the Royal 22nd Regiment, the Régiment de la Chaudière, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Governor General’s Foot Guards and the Calgary Highlanders.
She is patron of over 33 charities in Canada, including the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Royal Canadian Legion, the Canadian Cancer Society and Save the Children, among many others.
In a life dedicated to serving others, Her Majesty has served Canadians and become intimately acquainted with our country, its regions, its peoples and our hopes and aspirations.
It is Her Majesty the Queen who opened the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, invoking the allied victory in which Canada and the United States shared 14 years earlier, and calling the seaway “a victory of another kind”. In English and French, she invoked Canadian history from the times of Cartier and LaSalle to the present, the scene of so much of North American history.
Her Majesty’s life has been the history of Canada. She has known personally every prime minister since Mackenzie King who she met as Princess Elizabeth in London in the 1940s. While it is not known if she met R.B. Bennett, she did meet Arthur Meighen during the 1951 royal tour a year before she became Queen.
Canada has had 22 prime ministers up to today and the Queen has known 13 of them, more than half of all the prime ministers in the history of Canada since we re-founded our country with Dominion status in 1867.
In fact, the story goes that even Pierre Trudeau was known to admire the Queen personally. It is even said that so great was his personal regard for Her Majesty as a stateswoman with encyclopedic knowledge of Canada, that he deliberately entrenched the monarchy in the Constitution Act of 1982, which, of course, can only be amended in this respect with the unanimity of all provinces.
It was Her Majesty the Queen who opened the Canadian Centennial celebrations of 1967, the Centennial of Confederation. It is the Queen who signed into force the Constitution Act of 1982 in front of these Houses of Parliament.
The Queen, then, has been with us on all the most important occasions of our modern national life. She has borne with us through thick and thin, through peace and war, as she did in the service of His Majesty’s forces during the Second World War, through prosperity and times of economic downturn.
Continuity is a central theme in Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee. We are very proud that Her Majesty is carrying on the great tradition of the Crown as the guardian of our rights as Canadians, including protection of freedom of religion, language, and our civil law system. Our constitutional monarchy has survived every war and revolution, remaining loyal to the Canadian people and their rights.
She shares with that powerful and evocative symbol of Canada’s founding, Queen Victoria, who chose the location of the capital in which we sit, the achievement of 60 years on the throne.
In 1897, the then prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, was in London for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth’s great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. A few years later, this great Quebecker, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, known above all for his Canadian patriotism, celebrated the Canadian role in uniting the Canadian family throughout, at the time the British Empire, during the South African War.
Laurier overcame his earlier opposition to that conflict and instead came to recognize that Canada’s service under the Crown on the African veldt was a source of pride and international prestige.
Laurier said in this House in 1900:
is there a man whose bosom did not swell with pride, the noblest of all pride, the pride of pure patriotism, the pride of the consciousness of our rising strength, the pride of the consciousness that that day the fact had been revealed to the world that a new power had arisen in the west.
This quotation from 112 years ago is how I answer that charge that Canada’s monarchy is somehow a hindrance to our sense of nationality in 2012.
The Queen is Canadian. All of the proud associations we share with the monarchy are Canadian through and through. Canada, in fact, Canadianized the monarchy in 1931 with the Statute of Westminster. Before then, it could be argued that we shared a common imperial crown. However, after 1931, Canada had a monarchy in its own right.
In this era of internationalism and in a country with many regions, three founding peoples and two official languages, we benefit greatly from having a head of state who resides not in Quebec or Ontario or any other region, but who can visit each region as equally as possible. Queen Elizabeth represents all regions and all Canadian peoples equally.
When we speak of the Crown in Canada, whether in this Parliament or in a myriad of institutions across the country, we are speaking of a uniquely Canadian institution, shaped and tailored by Canadians over the decades and generations to our own needs and requirements. It is not something imposed on us. We ourselves have chosen it and continue to choose it every time we reopen this House and this Parliament in Her Majesty’s name and under her mantle.
Every day we Canadians enjoy the protection and benediction of that crown and mantle, and every day we open this House, praying for our sovereign lady, the Queen.
Let me close with a prayer, one that is an invocation from the Canadian Book of Common Prayer for the Queen in celebration of this remarkable achievement, her diamond jubilee:
O Lord…the only Ruler of princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth: Most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth…that she may alway incline to thy will, and walk in thy way: Endue her plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant her in health and wealth long to live; strengthen her that she may vanquish and overcome all her enemies; and finally after this life she may attain everlasting joy and felicity.
It is a great honour and privilege, on behalf of all members of Parliament from all regions of Canada and on behalf of the Canadian people, to congratulate Queen Elizabeth II on her 60 years of service to the people of the Commonwealth and to the people of Canada.
It is an honour to congratulate, on behalf of the Canadian people represented here in this Chamber, Her Majesty upon achieving by the grace of God this tremendous milestone of 60 years as our gracious and faithful Queen.
God bless Canada, and God save the Queen.
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