Remarks by Minister Goodale at the Canadian police and peace officers 39th Annual Memorial Service
Thank you, Madame Chair, Julie.
Labour Minister Mihychuk. Parliamentarians from all levels. Police officers. Peace officers. Families and friends – especially of the fallen. International visitors. Distinguished guests. Ladies and gentlemen:
Good morning. It’s a great honour and privilege to be here today … with all of YOU. We are proud to gather on the traditional unceded territory of Algonquin people
Greetings and good wishes to everyone from Prime Minister Trudeau, the Government of Canada, the Parliament of Canada, and the people of Canada. You are most welcome on Parliament Hill this morning.
This is the cathedral of our democracy. And we are able to have it, and enjoy it – and all that it represents – because our country is fundamentally a safe and peaceful place. Open. Diverse. Inclusive. Respectful. Generous. And compassionate. A country of shared aspirations, rights and freedoms, governed by due process, the pursuit of justice and the rule of law.
And THAT, in large measure, depends critically upon YOU (and all the women and men you represent). For 149 years, you (and they) have “stood on guard” for Canada. To keep Canadians safe, and to safeguard who we are and the way in which we want to live our lives.
From the heart of our busiest cities, to the vast expanse of rural Canada, Indigenous communities and the remotest of outposts … from our borders to our correctional and parole services … from our natural resources to our national security … you and your colleagues are everywhere on the job.
When all the rest of us are trying to avoid danger, you are heading INTO it … First Responders. There are so many examples, large and small, from every corner of the country.
When a young man went on a deadly shooting spree in a school in LaLoche, Saskatchewan last January, RCMP officers arrived immediately and within five minutes had the situation under control, disarming the perpetrator and undoubtedly saving lives.
When the worst wildfire in Canadian history raged around Fort McMurray this spring, more than 80,000 people had to be evacuated immediately. Amazing police officers got it organized and got it done, even while their own homes were burning down.
When a homegrown terrorist emerged in Strathroy, Ontario this summer, Canada’s security service and four police forces worked quickly, professionally, seamlessly and courageously together to prevent a much bigger tragedy.
The people in your profession are highly skilled and proficient. Your counterparts around the world acknowledge your excellent capabilities.
And so do all Canadians, just as we honour and treasure your sense of duty and service, your courage and sacrifice, and your defiant determination in the face of those who would prey upon the innocent and the vulnerable, or attack our democratic qualities and our way of life.
Law enforcement, policing and keeping the peace grow more complex and difficult every day. New technology, globalization, cyber-crime, trans-national crime, terrorism, mental health issues, deadly new scourges like fentanyl – the challenges you are called upon to face are enormous. And all your work must be done with the highest standards of probity, judgment, transparency and accountability.
The demands, the expectations, the pressures and the stress are unrelenting.
It is vital, demanding work. You do it, not because you “have” to, but because you “want” to – it’s your calling. And thus you earn the trust, the admiration, the respect and the affection of your fellow citizens – mostly people you will never know, but for whom you are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.
And we’re thinking especially today of those who have made that sacrifice … the honoured names already on this national memorial and the new names added today.
Historically, we reach back to 1922 to remember Thamesville-Kent County Constable William Pickard … And to 1917, to remember Immigration Officer Marshall Jackson … And to 1912, to remember Immigration Inspector Herbert Herbert.
These names remind us of two very important things.
First, law enforcement extends beyond policing itself, and this memorial is intended to be inclusive – to honour all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice as peace officers, broadly defined.
And secondly, whenever the sacrifice is made – even a hundred years ago or more – we always need to remember and show our gratitude for those who have answered the highest and the hardest call of public service.
The toll this year also includes two young Canadian police officers, taken in the line of duty just a few months ago – in February in Lac Simon, Quebec, 26 year old Constable Thierry LeRoux of the Anishnabe Police Department, and in April in West Shore, British Columbia, 32 year old Sarah Beckett of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
At opposite ends of the country, from entirely different backgrounds and doing quite different work, these two young people died in the line of duty, serving others; and they leave behind them loving families and legions of friends and colleagues who share the heartbreak of their loss – including all of us here today.
They did their jobs with courage and devotion. They put the safety of others ahead of their own. They looked danger in the eye and they did not flinch.
We are humbled by their service. We stand in awe of their sacrifice. Our love and gratitude surround their grieving families as we extend the nation’s deepest condolences. And we share a profound sense of pride in these two remarkable young Canadians, and all they represent. They shall never be forgotten.
To all the police and peace officers who carry on each and every day, across this country and beyond, to keep people safe and to safeguard our precious rights and freedoms, the pursuit of justice and the rule of law – thank you for what you do, and God speed.
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