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Source: The Presidency
Title: Mbeki: Reply to toast by Prime Minister of Canada, Jean
REPLY BY THE PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA, THABO MBEKI, TO THE TOAST
BY PRIME MINISTER JEAN CHRETIEN, Museum of Civilisation, Gatineau,
Ottawa, 4 November 2003
The Rt Hon Jean Chretien and Madame Aline Chretien,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The entire South African delegation is very delighted to be in
Canada and to join you here tonight, after a memorable tour of the
exhibits depicting the evolution of your great nation in this
Museum of Civilisation.
Prime Minister, you are stepping down after your long and
outstanding career in politics and government, but we are confident
that your best is yet to come in the years ahead. We in Africa know
that we can count on your support even in your retirement.
The Museum of Civilisation is a fitting place for us to pay tribute
and homage to a great friend of South Africa, of Africa and to one
of Canada's most distinguished and esteemed leaders, Prime Minister
Jean Chretien. You were part of those whose dedication and
conviction ensured that in the 1970s, the voice of all Canadians,
including aboriginal groups, was heard.
Again, in the 1980s, you played an important role in the protection
and promotion of the rights of women, aboriginal groups and other
We are privileged to congratulate you on the important role you
played to ensure that this country has its Charter of Rights and
Freedoms. Last year, when you celebrated the 20th anniversary of
the Charter, you said in your message, Prime Minister, that this
was your proudest achievement in public service and also an example
and source of inspiration for many countries around the world.
South Africa too is inspired by your achievements.
As our first decade of freedom in South Africa draws to a close, we
take pride in the fact that we drew on the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms as we drafted our own Constitution and Bill of
Rights. I would also like to take this opportunity once more to
convey our thanks to the people of Canada for the important role
they played in the global struggle against apartheid. This valuable
contribution to our liberty has served as a solid foundation for
the warm relations of friendship and solidarity that bind our
countries and peoples.
Since we gained our freedom, Canada has taken her place among the
front ranks of those who have been assisting us to build a new
society. This has included capacity building within the justice
system, anti-corruption programmes and other projects in all
fields, such as education and the arts, all aimed at creation of a
new South Africa. We are extremely grateful for your material and
intellectual assistance in promoting the development of a people
centred society, which, like Canada, will continue to grow in
conditions of peace and prosperity.
We value the increasing investment and trade between our two
countries, and are happy at the important role you have played in
this regard, Prime Minister. We are confident that our visit here
will further strengthen our bilateral cooperation and ensure
enhanced economic relations between us.
Last year at the Kananaskis G8 Summit, again, Prime Minister, you
showed your solidarity and commitment to the developing world. You
demonstrated boldly why Canada shines on the international arena as
a beacon of hope in the continuing struggle against poverty and
The Canada Africa Fund is a tangible result of our discussions at
Kananaskis. It is what you have done practically that strengthens
our resolve further to consolidate and deepen our partnership with
the government and people of Canada.
Canada's prominent role in the Commonwealth, the Cairns Group and
the World Trade Organisation, the co-operation in combating
terrorism, the Kimberley Process regarding diamonds, the Landmine
Treaty, the issue of Illicit Trade in Small Arms, the Montreal
Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Substances and her visible presence at
international conferences in South Africa, including the recent
World Parks Congress and the World Roads Congress, demonstrate this
country's genuine commitment to respond to the challenges facing
poor countries, especially Africa.
We are keen to continue to work with you to promote the critically
important objective of peace in conflict areas around the world and
especially in such African countries as the Democratic Republic of
Congo, Sudan, Burundi, Liberia and the Cote d'Ivoire, as well as in
the Middle East, including Palestine, Israel and Iraq. The process
of globalisation emphasises the need for an inclusive and
responsive multilateral system of governance, with the United
Nations at its apex. We look forward to working with you to respond
to all the challenges that confront the multilateral system.
We salute you, Prime Minister, for your spirit of ubuntu and
solidarity in forging links from as far away as the Northwest
Territories, the Prairies and the Arctic, to Africa. One day we
will be able to say that we have a prosperous and peaceful Africa
because we had among us, a warm-hearted and generous friend called
Ladies and gentlemen:
Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health of Prime
Minister Jean Chretien and Madame Chretien and to the enduring and
deep friendship between the wonderful people of Canada and South
Africa. To your good health, and may you be blessed with success
and joy in your retirement!