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Toast at the State Dinner in Ottawa, Canada

April 05, 1987

Your Excellency, it's always a great pleasure to join old friends again. And just as delightful, it's exhilarating to celebrate the stirrings of spring with a visit to your lovely country, as I did in 1981 and '85. I'm looking forward to returning again next spring for the economic summit that Canada will host in 1988. You know, when I started out from Washington, I had the feeling that I was the first political figure this year who left Washington flying north who wasn't going to New Hampshire. [Laughter] The truth is, I feel an extra kinship with Canada on this trip. For me, too, it was a long winter. [Laughter]

It's commonplace at gatherings such as this to reflect on our similarities, of all that we share together. Surely one such experience is that of a sense of great adventure, of opening a new land, of beginning anew and for the good of us all. Your Excellency, as pioneers of this great continent, the citizens of our two countries have shared, and continue to share, a faith in progress, a belief in cooperation and hard work, and a vision of a future free of war and want. Ours are optimistic people, ingrained with the confidence that no problem is insoluble. Together, we faced the ultimate challenge to peace and freedom during the two great world conflicts of this century. Today, in NATO and in NORAD and in our consultation at the economic summit, the G-7, the United Nations, and a host of other cooperative endeavors, we continue to stand together for freedom and democracy and for the economic advancement of mankind.

Just as the frontier once stretched before the trappers and frontiersmen who surveyed and opened the North American Continent, today we face challenges that require courage, commitment, good sense, and intellect. As we hurtle toward the 21st century, we're confident that the future is on the side of the free and that, with God's grace, the greatest days of Canada and the United States are still ahead. Economic challenges are, of course, always present. Prosperity, economic advancement, improving the lot of large numbers of people is no easy task. Critical choices will determine if our children and grandchildren are to live well and possess the same opportunity we've enjoyed. It comes down to this: How can Canada and the United States, mature industrial powers, best meet the competition and remain the business, commercial, and industrial leaders of the 21st century?

Mr. Prime Minister, your proposal that we cooperate, that we combine and draw upon the collective energy of two economies, was bold and farsighted. It has opened an historic prospect. Setting the goals, however, is easier than achieving them. Our intense negotiations to bring a comprehensive free trade agreement into being certainly suggest this. There is still much hard bargaining ahead, yet let us not lose sight of the grandeur of what we seek. We remain hopeful that we can conclude an agreement this year. And if we do, it will be an agreement that will promote the economic prosperity of both countries—fair, equitable, and mutually beneficial.

This trade agreement will send a number of messages. First and foremost, it is a resounding "no" to those who would stand pat, to the naysayers, and to the fearful who advocate protectionist barriers. It is a resounding vote of confidence in our own abilities to meet world competition with an unleashed ingenuity, which is prized on both sides of the 49th parallel. It's an exciting idea, and it's a real possibility within our reach. It can reinforce the already impressive strength of our economic relationship. The free flow of goods, services, and investment will be an impetus to sustained economic growth, a trump card in resolving the economic difficulties of today. So, let's look forward to the day when our California wines, toasted the world over, are available throughout Canada without hindrance for your dining delight— [laughter] —just as Molson's Ale is available to every American table. The children of today will enjoy the fruits of our labor in many ways, not the least of which is strengthening the enduring ties between our peoples.

Thank you, and God bless you.

And now, to Her Excellency, the Governor General of Canada, to Mr. Sauve, would you join me in a toast?

Note: The President spoke at 9:37 p.m. in the ballroom at Bideau Hall in response to a toast by Jeanne Sauve, Governor General of Canada. In his remarks, the President referred to NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and G-7, the seven Western nations that participated in the annual economic summit conferences. Following the dinner, the President went to his suite at Rideau Hall, where he stayed overnight.

Ronald Reagan, Toast at the State Dinner in Ottawa, Canada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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