Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's Response to Remarks of Welcome by Prime Minister Pearson at Vancouver International Airport, British Columbia

September 16, 1964

Mr. Prime Minister, Premier Bennett, Honorable Ministers and Members of Parliament, citizens of British Columbia, my fellow Westerners, ladies and gentlemen:

If you would indulge me just a moment, I should like to introduce to our Canadian friends the distinguished Americans who have come with me today to participate in this most enjoyable occasion, and to commemorate this day.

First of all, I should like to ask the distinguished chairman of our Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate, Senator J. William Fulbright, to stand, and his wise and beloved colleague, Senator George Aiken, a great friend of Canada.

From our neighboring State of Montana, we have the great Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Mike Mansfield; his colleague, our friend Senator Lee Metcalf; and Governor Babcock.

From Oregon we have Senator Morse; the distinguished member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Neuberger; the fine young Governor of Florida--of Oregon, Governor Hatfield.

Governor, I hope you will pardon me, because I was in Florida yesterday, and I am going to be in Oregon tomorrow.

From the State of Washington, we have Senator Warren Magnuson, Senator Henry Jackson, and Governor Rosellini.

It is on rare occasions that we have a quorum of the Senate here in the middle of the afternoon!

From the great State of Nevada, we have Senator Alan Bible, Senator Howard Cannon, and Governor Grant Sawyer.

And my own distinguished Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Stewart Udall.

Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Premier, I want to thank you for your generous welcome. This trip to Vancouver is the first that I have taken outside of my own country since I became President last November.

I think I will be guided by an old Chinese proverb: "When you enter a country, inquire as to what is forbidden; when you cross a boundary, ask about the customs." Well, I have made careful inquiries and I will eat the salmon and praise the B.C. Lions.

It is appropriate that this first trip should be to Canada. Our ties are old and they are strong. We are at once neighbors and friends, and partners and allies, and I am very glad my first stop is Vancouver.

Here is that spirit of adventure and excitement-of building a nation--which is part of the West which is my home also. I won't say that Vancouver reminds me of Texas. I will say, though, when I go home, that Texas reminds me of Vancouver.

Your Prime Minister has said that "the great purpose of international statesmanship today must be to... make possible a better life for all." Well, that is the purpose of this visit.

The treaty we proclaim will lay a new foundation of prosperity for Canadians and Americans, for your West and for ours.

We have achieved this partnership because we respect our differences. This continent is a richer and freer place for that respect.

At the same time, we owe much to each other. We can never forget that the rich soil of American freedom has been washed with Canadian blood, shed in a common effort against foreign enemies.

Nor can we forget that you have an honest interest in our affairs. We will always stand with you in the defense of freedom. But I also tell you that in the years to come my country will spare no effort to achieve a lasting peace for all of us.

I hope to learn more about your country. I hope to encourage my people to discover more of the richness of your culture, the values of your people, and the promise of your destiny.

But this much we already know:

No nation in the world has had greater fortune than mine in sharing a continent with the people and the nation of Canada.

And now, in the midst of a great drought in Texas, we welcome this great rain here.

Note: Prime Minister Pearson's remarks of welcome follow:

"Mr. President, Mr. Premier, distinguished guests from the United States, and friends:

"It is a very great pleasure, Mr. President, to welcome you to Canadian soil, as I have been welcoming you to Canadian air space, and especially happy because this is the occasion of the ratification of a treaty which will benefit both our countries and which is the result of friendly cooperation between them.

"It is, I think, appropriate that your first visit, as President, outside the United States should be to Canada, your nearest neighbor, your closest friend, and naturally, therefore, your most candid and constructive critic.

"It is the accepted convention that the first official visit of the head of a State or the head of a Government to another country should be to the capital of that country, but you, Mr. President, are a Texan and, as such, not bound by conventions-at least that kind of convention.

"So your first visit to Canada, and your first visit as President outside the United States, is to British Columbia, to Vancouver, where you are being greeted today by Premier Bennett and other distinguished citizens of this Province.

"It is fitting, I believe, that this should be the case, and it is a recognition of the surge of Canadian development west and north, and of our interest and our destiny across the Pacific. In no part of Canada could your welcome be more sincere than in this great Province.

"But I assure you, Mr. President, that had you landed at our most eastern airport in Newfoundland, 5,000 or more miles away, or at any place between, our welcome to you would have been equally warm both for yourself and as President of the United States of America, the nation which bears today so much of the burden of insuring peace and promoting freedom in the world, the nation which has led the free world through these troubled postwar years, the nation that is our good friend and our good neighbor."

The President spoke at 1 p.m. In his opening words he referred to Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and to Premier William A. C. Bennett of British Columbia.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's Response to Remarks of Welcome by Prime Minister Pearson at Vancouver International Airport, British Columbia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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