I love my country. I am proud to be a Canadian. We live in a beautiful land; we have ample natural resources; we have a long peaceful history; we are a truly multicultural nation; we have made major contributions to the advancement of society; and we are, all in all, a great people.
Canada is the second largest land mass on earth -- and what a beautiful country it is! Surrounded by three oceans, it has an incredible variety of landscape. From the vast, pure, arctic north, to the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, to the prairies, through the rocky Canadian Shield, the fertile farmlands of southern Ontario and Québec, to the picturesque Maritime Provinces, Canada is amazing. Each region has its own beauty. Our cities are filled with exciting things to do; our small towns are welcoming and rich with history; our farmlands are abundant and peaceful. In my southern Ontario home, I can enjoy four beautiful seasons and, within little more than an hour, I can be experiencing the country's largest city, resting along the shores of the Great Lakes, or hiking through wilderness trails.
I cannot imagine anywhere else on earth with such beauty and diversity.
Our amazing landscape also provides us with many natural resources, which we have learned to harvest. Hydro power from Niagara Falls, abundant forests and fish stocks, fertile farmland, rich oil fields -- the list is long. We have more than enough to help ourselves and, along the way, we have ample opportunities to help the rest of the world. Our wealth gives us so many advantages and, I think, special responsibility in the "global village."
One of the things about Canada which makes me most proud is our peaceful history. Certainly, we have been involved in wars and, when necessary (such as in World War II), Canadian soldiers made a major difference. But the Canadian mentality is oriented towards peace. Our troops are peace-keepers, not aggressors. Our instincts are to resolve our problems through negotiations, not bloodshed. Both in our relationships with other countries and in our internal problems, we tend to avoid violence. Even in our most difficult divisions --around the treatment of native peoples and in the Québec separatist questions --violence is rare. It does happen; there are always people who will be extreme. But we have never had any all-out wars, and I doubt that we ever will.
Our attitude towards peace also contributes to our relative safety. Of course, there are incidents of violence in Canada. The Montréal massacre of 11 years ago and recent episodes of school violence come readily to mind. However, both our laws and our collective sensibility makes us less likely to experience violence. We don't have to worry about being shot when we walk outside our doors. In an increasingly violent world, we can still feel safe and secure in our homes.
I am particularly grateful for Canada's diversity. Canada truly is a multicultural nation. In Canada, people of different colours, races and religions live together. We don't have neighbourhoods which are defined as "white" or "black". We learn from one another and, in my opinion, our lives are richer for the opportunity to share in such varied experiences.
The world is also greatly enriched by the contributions of Canadians. A Canadian team, led by Drs. Banting and Best, discovered insulin. Another Canadian, Joe Naismith, created the game of basketball. Canadians invented the mechanical arm which is used on space shuttle missions. And, perhaps most importantly to all teenagers, one Canadian, Alexander Graham Bell, revolutionized communication with the invention of the telephone!
Canadians have, as well, had a huge presence on the world stage. From diplomats such as Lester Pearson to entertainers such as Celine Dion, the world has come to know and love Canadians. But it's not just the famous who make Canada special. Everywhere I go in this country, I meet wonderful, welcoming people. When I read the works of Canadian authors, watch Canadian television, read Canadian magazines, I know just how special our country is.
Canada is my home, and I want it to stay the way that it is. I love this country and, at this difficult time, I am counting on those in powers in this country -- the politicians and the adults who elect them -- to believe that Canada IS worth saving, and to work to save it.