Your Honours, Premier, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Legislative Assembly, Distinguished guests,
I am most grateful to Your Honour and to you, Premier, for your very generous and kind words of welcome. I cannot tell you what a special privilege it is to be able to honour today some of your finest citizens from across the Province in the Order of Manitoba. Each one of these worthy recipients has, in his or her own special way, greatly enriched this Province and made an enormous difference to the lives of others.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my wife and I would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations and thanks to you all for your outstanding accomplishments.
I know very well of the reputation for extraordinary resilience acquired by the citizens of Manitoba, a Province so often tested by adversity. By way of a reminder, on our way to Winnipeg yesterday evening we flew over Duff's Ditch, an innovative and forward-looking initiative of the 1960s that continues to defend this community against the might of the Red River.
Mon pÃ¨re, le duc d'Ã‰dimbourgh, avait visité cette installation à la suite des inondations désastreuses de 1997. Il se rappelle encore la fierté des résidantes et résidants de Sainte-Agathe qui avaient démontré tant de force d'Ã¢me devant le désastre. Mon épouse et moi sommes trÃ¨s heureux que les inondations de cette année aient été beaucoup moins sérieuses.
Tout au long de notre trop court séjour parmi vous, mon épouse et moi avons pu apprécier directement les grandes qualités de la société canadienne oÃ¹ le respect et le souci des autres sont complétés par le dynamisme et l'innovation. Nous avons senti ceci tant à la place Bernadette-Poirier à Saint-Boniface qu'à l'atelier AssentWorks à l'allée de l'Innovation.
We also saw these great attributes of Canadian society, where respect and care for others is complemented by dynamism and innovation when we visited the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Pavilion Gallery Museumat Assiniboine Park. And it was also evident in the faces of the young people at Aerospace and Aviation Day at Stevenson Hanger and at the Magnificent Journey to Churchill facility where I was introduced to a very large polar bear and offered an opportunity to feed it. I was offered two pairs of tongs and I'm afraid I chose the longer tongs!
This is also a year of other more sombre anniversaries. Seventy-five years ago, in the bleak days leading to the outbreak of the Second World War, my Grandfather, King George VI, delivered a speech, "The King's Speech", from the second floor of Government House in Winnipeg. In the months and years that followed, and indeed to this very day, large numbers of Manitobans answered the call to duty, some never to return.
Earlier today, as their Colonel-in-Chief for very nearly the last thirty-seven years, I met officers from the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and the Air Reserve, and my wife, as Colonel-in-Chief, received the Queen's Own Rifles. If I may say so, hearing of their recent service in Afghanistan and other conflict zones, reminded me of the sacrifices that they and other Canadians have made in the service of their country. In two weeks' time, it will be our privilege to stand next to some of Canada's World War II veterans on Juno Beach.
The Royal Winnipeg Rifles were part of the first wave of landings in Normandy on D Day. And, in World War I, then named the 90th Winnipeg Rifles, they saw some of the heaviest fighting of the entire War, including the capture of Passchendaele. As some of you here today will know, in 1925, Pine Street in East Winnipeg was renamed Valour Road to recognize the courage of three young Winnipeg men all of whom lived on that street and were awarded the Victoria Cross for their heroism.
The Winnipeg Rifle's record of courage and service is replicated throughout Canada's brave armed forces, past and present, and my wife and I take the greatest pride in being associated with them.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we offer our renewed congratulations to the recipients and will treasure the memories of this visit and the warmth and sincerity of your welcome.
Merci, thank you and I hope, àbientÃ´t.