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Remarks of the President and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau of Canada Prior to Their Meetings in Ottawa

March 10, 1981

The Prime Minister. Canadians are simply delighted that you have come to visit us, and we're particularly pleased that in your first visit out of the United States you chose to visit our country.

Like Americans, Canadians are used to welcoming Americans. Last year, Mr. President, some 75 million border crossings were recorded between our two countries. That's about three times, more than three times, the entire population of Canada. So, Canadians know Americans, and Canadians like Americans. We like you because not only have we shared this continent together with our friends and neighbors, the Americans, with our friends and neighbors, the Mexicans, who have spanned this New World from one ocean to the other, but we also enjoy this neighborhood because we share the same values—individual liberty, justice, democratic values.

Mr. President, more than two centuries ago a great band of the brotherhood of man wrote the most revolutionary script since the New Testament. I'm talking of the American Constitution. And not content with that, they went on in the same sweet breath of humanity to write a Bill of Rights. Mr. President, those two documents, the words in there, the ideas in there, were heard around the world. Indeed, more than the shot fired at Lexington, it is these ideas and these values which have made America, the United States of America, the first great modern nation.

And that is why, Mr. President, the winds of freedom which first began to blow in your country and which then spread all over the world make that Canada and Canadians. As you can see from these signs and as you can hear from some of these lonely voices, Canadians expect much of Americans. But more important, Canadians have faith in the Americans. We know that our long relationship has been based on more than neighborhood; it's been based on friendship and on a sharing of these values. That is why we are happy you have come to visit us, to exchange ideas with us, and to seek solutions to the problems that often develop between two great nations and two neighbors.

Mr. President, you are welcome here. Les Canadiens qui comme moi connaissent bien les Etats-Unis parce qu'ils y vont souvent, parce qu'ils y ont passe, comme dans mon cas, plusieurs etes pendant leur enfance, ou qui vont pendant l'hiver pour trouver votre soleil plus chaud en Floride; ces Canadiens vous connaissent, ces Canadiens sont contents de vous accueillir. [Canadians who, like me, know well the United States because they go often, because they have spent, as in my case, several summers during their youth, or because they go during wintertime to find your sun which is warmer in Florida; these Canadians know you, these Canadians are glad to welcome you.]

And this sense of excitement, this sense of expectation that we felt in anticipation of your visit, Mr. President, we owe it to this friendship between our nations—I love hecklers; I don't know about you, Mr. President. This could go on for a long while, because to each of these manifestations, to each of these concerns, there are answers. You and I, your government and ours, your people and ours, will find the answers because we have faith in the people of the United States. As you have said, Mr. President, the greatest asset of the United States is the freedom of its people. This freedom we enjoy and this freedom you will feel amongst us.

Thank you.

The President. Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker of the Senate, Madam Speaker of the House:

It is a pleasure to be here today, not only to hear such warm words of welcome but also to appreciate through a visitor's eyes these splendid halls of government.

It was said once of this place that it grasps and materializes the beauty of Canada, the vastness of its lands, its loneliness , its youth, and its hope. And yet Parliament Hill is more than an imposing symbol of your nation; it is also a landmark of the New World, a monument to the right of self-government and the value of human freedom that even sometimes, as you yourself have pointed out, makes raucous behavior permissible. This belief in self-rule and the rights of the individual springs from a common heritage that formed the backdrop for our discussions in the next 2 days.

Now, Mr. Prime Minister, there is important work on the agenda before us—improving our trade, protecting our environment, safeguarding our freedom. But before we begin our public business, I did want to address one other matter between us that should be dealt with early on.

You will remember a little while back when our national troubles were widely known, a journalist penned a testimony to our country that was entitled, simply, "Let's Hear It for the United States." It spoke with great affection about people of the United States, their generosity, their inner strength. That testimony in our land was reprinted many times in magazines and newspapers, played on radio stations and even in nightclubs in my country. It touched the American people deeply that anyone should think so kindly of us. But I don't think it surprised us to learn that the journalist who wrote those very kind words was a Canadian.

And so, Mr. Prime Minister, before we discuss the other important matters before us, I want to take this occasion not to talk about the affairs of state, but to speak from the heart to the heart, to say to the Canadian people, the people of the United States do not merely value your friendship, we cherish it. We are here today not just to seek friendly ties with a neighboring nation and a world power but to strengthen instead the deep, unbending bonds of trust between old and devoted friends.

Merci. C'est un plaisir to be here with you today. Thank you.

The Prime Minister. Hey, guys, when I go to the United States, I'm not met with these kind of signs. You know, the Americans have some beefs against us, too, but they receive them politely. Now, how about a great cheer for President Reagan? [Cheers and applause]

Note: The Prime Minister spoke at 11:10 a.m. outside the Centre Block on Parliament Hill. As printed above, the Prime Minister's remarks follow the text of the White House press release.

Following their remarks, the President and the Prime Minister met privately in the Prime Minister's office in the Centre Block. They then went to the Prime Minister's residence for a luncheon. Later in the afternoon, the President and the Prime Minister and their delegations held a meeting in the Cabinet Room at the Centre Block.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks of the President and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau of Canada Prior to Their Meetings in Ottawa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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