Speaking notes for The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport - Opening Ceremony of the 39 th Session of the ICAO Assembly


ICAO Headquarters, Assembly Hall, Montréal
September 27, 2016

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Mr President of the Council Aliu,
Madam Secretary General Liu,
Premier Couillard,
Mayor Coderre,
Distinguished delegates,
Dear friends,

I am pleased to be here with you today for the opening of the 39th Session of the ICAO Assembly.

As my honourable colleagues have already done, I would like to welcome you all to Canada and to Montreal, this wonderful city that I call home.

This Session of the Assembly is opening during one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, when our forests are adorned with changing colours.

I hope you can find some time during your stay to take in those beautiful landscapes, as well as the many attractions this great city has to offer.

Together with the Province of Quebec and the City of Montréal, Canada is proud to host ICAO and its community of diplomats and experts, and is committed to fully supporting this organization so that it can continue to thrive.

Historically, Canada has always valued cooperation among nations, especially under the aegis of the United Nations, and this meeting is no exception.

During our Assembly, our collective mission will be to work together to advance the ambitious standards that will make our world a better place for future generations.

The work carried out by ICAO as a specialized agency is directly in keeping with that objective.

Important work awaits us in the coming days. We will establish the organization’s work plan for the next three years, which addresses a number of issues of the utmost importance.

Some of you may know I had the privilege to fly to space in my previous career.

This gave rise to some humour when I became Canada’s Minister of Transport, suggesting Canada was taking transportation concerns to a whole new level.

I think of it the other way around. My experience gave me a unique, very privileged perspective on what we do here on Earth.

From space, it is Earth’s extraordinary beauty and unity that you see. There are no borders, the geopolitical lines that divide us so often have all disappeared. All you see is our beautiful blue planet.

All of us here today, from all our diverse nations, we all understand the fragility of this beautiful planet. Our nations, individually and collectively, have said that we need a new way forward, one that will see science and technology advance all our economies without jeopardizing the fragile planet we inhabit.

And that is our challenge and opportunity‎ here in the next few days. To do our part to reclaim our world, coming together as it appears from space: strong, united and beautifully blue.

The world and the aviation industry are watching us. We will be adopting various measures to make air transport safer, more secure, economically stronger and resilient, and more responsible with regard to environmental protection.

The task is certainly not always an easy one.

Our governments need to be watchful for new challenges and threats, new technologies, and economic turbulence that our nations and our companies may face.

At the International Aviation Conference in Chicago in 1944, our predecessors wished to create an organization that would establish common standards for the safe operation of civil aviation and regulate the economic or commercial side of aviation.

The Chairman of the Conference at that time qualified this as an ambitious dream.

An extraordinary amount of work has been achieved over the last seventy years, including many things that could not be foreseen at the time.

Since then, commercial air transport has grown from a marginal activity of an elite few, to an extraordinary 3.3 billion passengers per year, while constantly maintaining the highest possible levels of safety and security.

And this is very much thanks to ICAO.

But even with all this accomplished, more needs to be done and the next two weeks will give us, once again, that opportunity.

It remains ours to define and shape how the international air sector can be even better and more responsible tomorrow in the interests of middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join it.

This year is certainly critical for ICAO’s environmental agenda, as our international community is striving to maintain the momentum created by the historic Paris Agreement in 2015.

The international aviation sector is making significant efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and has set itself an aspirational goal of carbon neutral growth after 2020.

We have before us an opportunity to support the sector in meeting this ambition.

Indeed, the success of this 39th Session of the Assembly – even ICAO’s role in the future of the multilateral system – will depend in part on whether the international aviation community is able to come together and agree on the implementation of a global market- based measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our sector.

Canada, along with a number of other states, has communicated its intention to participate in the proposed global market-based measure from the outset.

I encourage all ICAO member states to join us in supporting a robust measure and in committing to participate in this measure as early as possible.

And that is but one of the many essential issues that we will be examining, as we strive to ensure that air transport continues to contribute to a better future, through the tireless pursuit of excellence in terms of safety, security, efficiency and environmental protection.

The next two weeks provide us all with the opportunity to further advance the visionary work of this great organization.

I am thrilled to be here before you, as Canadian Minister of Transport, as we embark on this important assembly.

May we be bold and visionary in our deliberations and conclusions.

I thank you all in advance for your contributions to this meeting, and I wish you a productive and enjoyable stay here in Montreal. Thank you.

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