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Speech - Brian Mulroney, PC, CC, LLD

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December 5, 2005

Source: Concordia University:

Speech - Brian Mulroney, PC, CC, LLD

I’m deeply honoured, and very grateful.

And I’m going to come straight to the point.

Like many of you, my parents came from humble origins. They were part of the Canadian mosaic—the nation of immigrants.
They were working-class Canadians.

My mother was a working Canadian—she ran a house and raised six children.

My father worked his entire life in a paper mill, and carried a lunch pail so his children wouldn’t have to.
Like all of your parents, they understood that education was the key to their children’s success.

I can still remember my father telling me in Baie Comeau many years ago: "Brian, the only way out of a paper mill town is through a university door."

And like all of your parents, their sacrifice and courage was rewarded on days such as this.

So let me join you in thanking them for all they have done to make this day possible.

When I graduated from college, Grattan O’Leary, a famed Canadian editor, told us that "a good education does not provide you with a standard of living. It provides you with a standard of life." That was true. And your impressive Concordia education will now enable you to deal with the great challenges you must soon confront.

We live in a world dominated by one factor — change. It is the one constant that will set our pace, create our problems, accommodate our talents, and define our frontiers. The world in ten years will bear slim resemblance to what we see around us today.

But certain things do not change. They are, in my judgment, the attractive anachronisms which will bear as much relevance at any given time in the future as they have provided valued guidance in the past. Among other things, they are a sense of tolerance, an appreciation of friendship, a pride of family, and a desire to acquit one’s tasks honorably and well.

Many years ago, John Morley wrote that "the mind is not a vessel to be filled; it is a hearth to be lighted." A man may be a great scientist, businessman, or doctor and yet not be educated. The reason is that education, true education is something that concerns the understanding heart, that concerns the spirit, that concerns the human soul.
Votre formation à Concordia vous donne les outils nécessaires pour exercer une influence positive sur vos communautés, voire sur des pays entiers et, ce faisant, pour contribuer au rapprochement des peuples et à la transformation de notre planète.

Little can be accomplished these days without international cooperation because of the very nature of the problems. No nation can solve its difficulties alone. All nations must cooperate to solve such problems together. And what are they?

Terrorism has become the classisic illustration. It is a brutal reality that will gravely affect all of your lives for decades to come. There is absolutely no possibility of eventual success against this lethal infection without close international cooperation in areas ranging from cyber space intelligence to good old fashioned border security.

Consider as well the devastation being inflicted on the world by the flow of narcotics. Young people who could die today on the streets of New York City may have been attracted to narcotics from Colombia or South East Asia that entered the United States, say, via Italy or Canada. Clearly, the American interest in eradicating such a threat to its society can only be achieved through international cooperation.

Deficient nuclear reactors in Chernobyl spewed poison into the atmosphere that soft winds then carried to other nations to fall like a lethal morning dew upon unsuspecting mothers, fathers and children hundreds and thousands of miles away.

Le fléau de la mortalité enfantine ne peut être endigué sans les ressources financières de pays industrialisés comme la France, le Royaume-Uni et le Japon – réunies sous la formidable force unificatrice de l’UNICEF.

La plaie mortelle qu’est devenu le SIDA, et toute la douleur qu’elle engendre, ne peut être guérie sans un formidable engagement financier, un effort mondial de recherche et de coopération médicale et un échange intégral de l’information par delà toutes les frontières.

The ready availability of armaments that sustain bellicose behavior in areas of the Middle East or provide the land mines that continue to maim children in Angola can only be controlled and eliminated by strong international leadership and cooperation, as exemplified by the treaty ratified in Ottawa some years ago.

Ainsi, que vous le vouliez ou non, le diplôme qu’on vous remet est un passeport mondial. Et, jeunes Canadiens, vous vous rendrez vite compte que la solution de problèmes qui se manifestent dans votre propre cour exigera une collaboration avec d’autres peuples, et parfois même, l’exercice de votre leadership auprès d’autres nations.

We live in a world dominated by one superpower – the U.S., soon to be challenged by another, China.

Your generation must provide the leadership to ensure that your national interest remains compatible with the common interest. You must understand that constructive internationalism and cooperation among nations are the hallmarks of civilized global conduct.

J’ai voulu vous présenter une analyse réaliste du monde d’aujourd’hui. Mais je tiens aussi à vous faire part de mon grand optimisme vis-à-vis l’avenir.

If it is true that we live in an imperfect world beset by serious social challenges, it is also true that, compared with 50 years ago, we have made enormous strides. In that time there have been no world wars and no use of atomic weapons. There has been an extension of democracy throughout much of South East Asia, Eastern Europe, Russia and Latin America to an extent unimaginable. There has been a resurgence of economic strength and humanistic moral leadership in Japan and Germany, both of which are economic superpowers and the anchors of peace and stability in their respective regions.

There have been dramatic improvements in world health, social justice and human rights around the world and the powerful effects from a worldwide sweep towards free trade have raised prosperity and the prospects of economic fairness and opportunity for all people higher than at any time in history.

I believe the next 50 years offer even greater opportunities for good in this world. The impulse towards aggression, the instinct towards self-destruction and the effects of evil shall still be with us.

But these will be vastly outweighed by a qualitative improvement in our cultures, the acceptance of universal family values, a significantly strengthened leadership role for women, the growth of internationalism and the emphasis on multilateral solutions to problems that range from terrorism to trade.

It is the building blocks put in place by groups such as this graduating class that will complete the patient and demanding task of constructing the cathedral of world peace. One day the mere hint of war will bring down instant and universal opprobrium on the head of any potential aggressor.

Idealism and principle are the great gifts of the young. Winston Churchill once observed that:

"You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her. She was made to be wooed and won by youth."

Your parents have provided the inspiration and the sacrifice that have brought you to this day.

Concordia University has given you the impressive education you need.

May your standard of life be your gift to your nation. And may your idealism and principle be your legacy to the world.

Bonne chance. Le Canada a besoin de vous, le monde entier compte sur vous!

Thank you, merci, and may God bless you all.

Chris Mota,
Senior Public Relations Officer
Concordia University
tel: (514) 848-2424 ext. 4884
cel: (514) 952-5556
fax: (514) 848-3383



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