Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for those warm words of welcome and for your hospitality!
The Queen and I are very pleased to be back in Canada once again. We have been here several times before, not only for the State Visit in 1988 but also for the Olympic Games in Calgary the same year. In the 1990s, I was here with a delegation from the Royal Academy of Engineering Science and at another time as representative for the international scout movement.
In 1998 we travelled westwards to Winnipeg, Vancouver and Victoria. This time we are looking forward to visiting Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City - except for Ottawa of course.
We have always been met by warmth and generosity during our previous visits. And I know it will be the same this time. It is easy for a Swede to feel at home in Canada. We share with you a common set of values like love of freedom, democracy, peace and environment.
In international contexts, Canadians and Swedes often have similar opinions. We are likeminded. Today, October 24, we celebrate the UN Day. Canada and Sweden have enjoyed close cooperation in the United Nations ever since the organisation was founded. As early as in 1956 - during the Suez crisis - your Minister of External Affairs, Lester B. Pearson, proposed that the UN ought to have its own peace-keeping forces. His proposal was subsequently implemented under the leadership of Dag Hammarskjöld, the Swede who was UN Secretary-General from 1953 to 1961.
Canadian and Swedish troops have worked together on several missions in Cyprus, the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans and now in Afghanistan. I know that your efforts on behalf of the world community have been at the prize of lives of Canadian soldiers. Our thoughts go to these soldiers, their families, colleagues and friends.
I honoured the memory of those who have fallen in the service of the United Nations by visiting the Peacekeeping Monument here in Ottawa earlier today. We remember all those who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of peace. One of them is Raoul Wallenberg, of whom I am very proud. Thank you for having made him an honorary citizen of Canada.
Swedes who have come to this country have found it easy to adjust and feel at home. Around a quarter of a million Canadians count themselves to be of Swedish origin. Swedes came here in the large wave of emigration from Scandinavia to North America in the 19th century, but also during the 1920s and 30s when Canada´s government actively recruited Europeans for settlement in the west.
In his novel “The Land of Canaan", Sven Delblanc, a well-known Swedish writer, describes his own family´s life as settlers at Swan River in Manitoba. It was not just a land of milk and honey - like the land of Canaan in the Bible - but also severe hardship during the failure of crops and depression of the 1930s. By helping and being loyal to each other, the settlers succeeded in surviving, and many remained in Canada. Swedish-Canadians are good at maintaining their ties with each other and their former homeland through associations, organisations, conferences and their own newspapers.
Once again there is a wave of Swedes travelling to Canada. I am referring to the growing number of Swedish students who have chosen to come here to study at one of your many fine universities. Today there are some 500 Swedish students in Canada. This exchange of knowledge is good for all of us. But I do hope that at least some of the students will choose to return home!
There is great admiration in Sweden for the way in which Canada has been able to integrate immigrants into a harmonious society and to use the knowledge and experience that people from other countries have brought with them. Many Swedish delegations have been here over the years to see and learn from Canada and I hope that this exchange of experiences will continue.
During the last two decades there has been a special type of “immigration" from Sweden to Canada. I am talking about the Swedish hockey players who have come here to play in the NHL. Börje Salming played with the Toronto Maple Leafs for sixteen years and today there are approximately twenty Swedish players in different NHL clubs in Canada. Daniel Alfredsson, the team captain of the Ottawa Senators, Mats Sundin, team captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Markus Näslund, team captain of the Vancouver Canucks are just a few examples.
During my visit to Quebec City, I will be learning more about the cooperation in Arctic research between Canada and Sweden. The Arctic region, to which both our countries belong, is ecologically vulnerable. It is most important to follow climate change and other environmental impact carefully. We must observe the effects on flora and fauna as well as the conditions of life for the people in the Arctic region.
Canada and Sweden have native populations who have lively contacts with each other through various Arctic organisations. Earlier this year the Swedish Government handed back the totem pole to the Haisla people in British Columbia. The totem pole, which had been in Sweden since 1929, is now back at the place where it was first erected. We have kept a replica of the totem pole, carved in Sweden by natives of the Haisla tribe. This process of repatriation has been a visible example of our excellent cooperation.
In this country, there is an enormous interest and knowledge about environmental issues. Several Canadian delegations from local authorities and companies have been on study visits to Sweden to learn more about our Swedish experiences on how to solve environmental problems by means of new innovative technology. In the Swedish business delegation now visiting Canada there are several companies and organisations from the environmental technology sector, specialised in waste management, renewable energy and environment-friendly urban planning. There are also representatives of Ericsson, whose largest research facility outside Sweden is based in Montreal. I do hope that this State Visit will encourage increasing trade and other cooperation between companies in our two countries.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Queen and I are looking forward to four days in your vast and beautiful country. Four days are far from enough, but we will see a sample of interesting places and people from different areas and cultures. We will certainly have learnt a lot about Canada upon our return to Sweden at the end of the week.
I wish you success and prosperity in your continued work for Canada.
Thank you once again for your great hospitality.
For you, your Excellency, your family and the people of Canada I propose a toast.