Remarks by Minister Goodale at the Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ 41st Annual Memorial Service

Speech

September 30th, 2018
Ottawa

Staff Sergeant, merci.

Members of the Senate, the House of Commons and the Diplomatic Corps.

Ontario provincial Minister Tibollo.

Police and peace officers from across Canada and other countries around the world.

Families and friends - especially of the fallen.

Distinguished guests.

Ladies and gentlemen. Good morning to all. Welcome.

It’s a great honour to be here with you today.

As we gather once again on these unceded traditional lands of generations of Indigenous peoples - to whom we are grateful and extend our respect - I bring the greetings and good wishes of the Prime Minister and the Government and the Parliament and the people of Canada.

This impressive memorial service has graced the front lawn of Parliament Hill on the last Sunday in September every year for more than four decades.  And you are most welcome here!

As a young, first-time Member of Parliament back in the 1970's, I can remember when this special day got started ... in 1978.  It was a way to memorialize the tragic and senseless death of rookie Ottawa constable, David Kirkwood.  May he rest in peace.

The day grew steadily into a national tribute for all police and peace officers lost in the line-of-duty throughout our nation's history.  An official proclamation to that effect was issued in 1998.  National half-masting of all flags on all federal buildings began in 2003.

There are now more than 860 names on the Honour Roll and engraved on memorial tablets.  They were read aloud this morning - every one of them, for all to hear ... and remember.

And that's the point.  We are here to honour all those who have sacrificed THEIR LIVES so all the rest of us may enjoy the safe pursuit of OURS.  And we're here to keep alive the memories of these fallen heroes by thanking their families and loved ones.

On this solemn day, we also remember the pain and suffering of INJURED officers who carry with them not only visible wounds but also the hidden burdens of trauma and torment resulting from the difficult tasks they are called upon to perform.  They too command our admiration, care and respect.

Policing and keeping-the-peace are among the HIGHEST callings of public service.  And the HARDEST.

The careers that you have chosen demand extraordinary skill, knowledge and understanding, a level of professionalism that is second to none, and unflinching courage - to keep Canadians and our country safe, and to safeguard our rights and freedoms, and the open, inclusive way in which we want to live our lives.

From the heart of our largest cities to the wide-open spaces of rural Canada, from Indigenous communities to our coastal regions. From our borders to our correctional and parole services. From our natural resources to our national security…

... you and your colleagues are on the job, everywhere and all the time, including right now.  And we thank you.

The high calibre of Canadian law enforcement - including the VALUES that animate Canadian police and peace officers - are a reflection of the kind of country we have built, with and for each other together.

Canada is probably the finest example of pluralism the world has ever known.

With a keen sense of fairness and justice.

An unshakable commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights, due process and the rule of law.

A spirit of generosity, compassion and inclusion, and the celebration of diversity as a unique Canadian strength.

And we're able to enjoy all that because we are fundamentally a safe and peaceful land.  And THAT, in large measure, is because of YOU, and all the women and men you represent.

From cyber-crime and terrorism to the scourge of fentanyl and armed gangs, from the deep dark-web to human trafficking and mental health - the challenges you are expected to combat are enormous.  And you do it, through your dedication to community service, mostly for people you will never know, but for whom you are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Six more of your colleagues' names are being added to the Honour Roll this year:

Constable Jacques Ostigny

Constable Francis Deschênes

Constable John Davidson

Constable Ian Jordan

Constable Robb Costello, and

Constable Sara Burns

The love and gratitude of grateful communities and a grateful nation surround their grieving families.  Their service and their sacrifice can never be forgotten.

I know that all Canadians will join me in expressing our great appreciation for the sacrifices of these brave men and women. May they rest in peace.

To all police and peace officers - on this day and everyday - thank you for your service.  You have your country's trust.  God speed you on your way.


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