Richard Nixon photo

Remarks on Arrival at Ottawa, Canada

April 13, 1972

Mr. Governor-General, Mr. Prime Minister, Your Excellencies, and ladies and gentlemen:

I wish to express on behalf of all of the members of our party my very great appreciation for the very warm words of welcome which you have spoken. And since you have referred to the weather, I can only say that while the weather may be cool, the welcome is very warm and for this we are most grateful.

You have referred also to the fact that we are close neighbors, that we have a long border. I think it is appropriate for me to point out that the first official visitor who came to the United States after I was inaugurated as President of the United States was the Prime Minister. The first individual head of government with whom we consulted before the trip to the People's Republic of China was the Prime Minister and other members of the Government of Canada.

It is also significant to mention that the only trip outside the United States that I am taking between the visit to the People's Republic of China and the visit that we will be making to Moscow in the latter part of May is to Canada.

Now, this tells us something--something which means very much between our two countries and also, I think, means something to the world:

First, at a time that we in the United States are seeking a new relationship with our adversaries, we realize the imperative importance of having better relations with our friends and close neighbors, and that is one of the reasons we are here.

Second, in order to contrast the three visits to which I have referred, I recall that one of the great sights that we saw in the People's Republic of China was the Great Wall of China, which runs thousands of miles down through that country, a barrier between that country and others that might invade it.

As we go to the Soviet Union, we will, of course, be thinking of the term "Iron Curtain" and of another wall, the Berlin Wall, which is the symbol of the division between East and West.

And when we come to Canada, we think of a boundary 4,000 miles, one we always refer to as the longest unguarded boundary in the world.

But as we refer to the fact that in two nations which we will have visited, one before and one after our visit to Canada, there are walls which have been barriers, and that in Canada, and between Canada and the United States, we have this unguarded boundary, let us recognize the true significance of that boundary.

As you have very well pointed out, while we have been friends and are friends, while we have a great unguarded boundary, we have differences: We have differences in forms of government, we are competitive economically in many areas, and we have our own separate identities.

As I come here to Canada, I want to say what I have said to our Canadian friends when they have come to the United States: We respect the separate identity, the right to pursue its own way that the people of Canada desire for their own destiny.

What we are really saying very simply is this: that while we do not have a wall between us, while we do have this great unguarded boundary, this does not mean that we are the same, it does not mean that we do not have differences, but it does mean that we have found a way to discuss our differences in a friendly way and without war, and this is the great lesson for all the world to see.

So as we visit Canada, halfway between the visit to the People's Republic of China and the visit to the Soviet Union, this is the hope that we have in mind, that these visits, all of them, will contribute to the goal of an open world in which there will not be walls that divide people, in which people can be different--different in their forms of government, competitive in many ways, but in which they can settle their differences by talking rather than fighting.

The Canadian-American example is an example for all the world to see, and our visit here, we trust, will contribute to the strength and the vitality of that splendid example.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 6:45 p.m. at Uplands Airport in response to the welcoming remarks of Governor-General Roland Michener. He spoke without referring to notes.

On April 11, 1972, the White House released a list of members of the U.S. official party for the President's trip to Canada.

The Governor-General's remarks were as follows:

Mr. President:

I welcome you and Mrs. Nixon and your official party with the deep feelings of warmth and esteem which one accords to good neighbors, good friends, and trusted allies.

This is not the first time that you have been in our country. You know, as we do, that the almost invisible line which has been drawn across our continent by the vagaries of history divides us as sovereign nations, but does not separate us as people with countless interrelationships of family, friendship, and personal interests.

We are all North Americans, with origins which touch at many points. Although our systems of representative government have developed somewhat differently, and our relative positions in the community of nations in terms of numbers and power are on a rather different scale, nevertheless our purposes and our goals as neighbors and in the world at large are broadly parallel.

This is not to say that we are always in agreement nor that our perspectives and approaches to problems must necessarily converge at all points. But our relationships have generally been characterized by sympathy and by efforts to understand and to respect each other's viewpoint.

As I have said, Mr. President, you have been in Canada before, but this visit has particular significance for us, for you come to us for the first time as head of state. Canadians who pride themselves on knowing about your country are well aware of the weight of responsibility and the demands of time and energy which fall upon the President of the United States of America. This responsibility and these demands are the measure of the honor which you do to us in coming to Canada, not from the necessity to resolve any critical issues of conflict or tension but, rather, to bring the message which we want most to hear--that of the friendship of Americans for Canadians, and of their desire to strengthen the partnership which we have built and maintained together over this past century and a half.

Mr. President, a Canadian welcome to be as full and wholehearted as we wish yours to be should be expressed in two languages which are ours by inheritance.

Alors, Monsieur le President, je vous adresse, au nom de tous les Canadiens, la plus cordiale bienvenue. Votre presence nous honore, dans cette heureuse tradition des visites que nous ont faites vos illustres predecesseurs. Je vous souhaite, ainsi qu'a Madame Nixon et aux members de la delegation eminente qui vous entoure, un heureux sejour ici. Que votre visite, comme les autres avant elle, aide a consolider nos relations, dont l'harmonie est pour nous tous une condition prealable de notre vie en commun sur le continent que nous partageons.

We could have wished to have you longer, Mr. President, and also at a season which is more definitely one thing or the other, but we hope sincerely that your visit, although brief, will be both happy and productive.

I am happy to welcome you, Mr. President, in the name of all Canadians.

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Arrival at Ottawa, Canada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives