Bush Thanks Canadians for 9/11 Support, Urges Unity
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2004 President Bush traveled to Halifax in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia today to thank Canada's people for helping America "in an hour of need."
He reminded them that the United States and Canada share not only common borders, but also common values and acceptance of their responsibilities in the world.
Bush praised Canadians for coming to the aid of more than 33,000 airline passengers whose flights were diverted after the United States closed its airspace following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "You opened your homes and your churches to strangers," he said. "You brought food; you set up clinics; you arranged for calls to their loved ones; and you asked for nothing in return."
This immediate outpouring demonstrated the union between the United States and Canada, with their common heritage, common border and common values that transcend centuries, the president said.
These shared convictions have "led our great democracies to accept a mission in the wider world," Bush said.
"We know it is not possible to live in quiet isolation of our peaceful continent, hoping the problems and challenges of other nations will pass us by," he said. "We know there can be no security, no lasting peace, in a world where proliferation and terrorism and genocide and extreme poverty go unopposed."
Canada, like the United States, has accepted global duties focused on building a better world -- from stabilization operations in Bosnia and Kosovo to peacekeeping missions in Haiti to the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan, he said.
"Our nations play independent roles in the world, yet our purposes are complimentary," Bush said.
He said the United States hopes to work with Canada to defend the two countries' security and spread freedom by building effective multilateral and multinational institutions and supporting effective multilateral actions.
But hinting at the United Nations' failure to take action against Saddam Hussein despite passage of several resolutions, Bush stressed that the success of multilateralism has to be measured in results -- not merely by working through a process. "The objective of the U.N. and other institutions must be collective security, not endless debate," he said. "For the sake of peace, when those bodies promise serious consequence, serious consequences must follow."
He vowed that the United States is committed to working with other nations to make these institutions more relevant and more effective in meeting "the unique threats of our time."
Another commitment, Bush said, is to fight global terrorism "with every action and resource the task requires," something he said both the United States and Canada are making strong strides toward accomplishing.
But defense alone is not a sufficient strategy, the president said. "On September the 11th, the people of North America learned that two vast oceans and friendly neighbors cannot fully shield us from the dangers of the 21st century," he said.
"There is only one way to deal with enemies who plot in secret and set out to murder the innocent and the unsuspecting," the president continued. "We must take the fight to them. We must be relentless, and we must be steadfast in our duty to protect our people."
He praised Canada's efforts in Afghanistan and said it's also critical to support Iraq as it emerges from decades of tyranny.
Bush acknowledged that not all Canadians support the U.S. and coalition position in Iraq. "Yet as your prime minister made clear in Washington earlier this year, there is no disagreement at all with what has to be done in going forward," he said. "We must help the Iraqi people secure their country and build a free and democratic society."
Bush said the United States and Canada, as well as other free nations, share another challenge and commitment: to enhance their own security by promoting freedom, hope and democracy in the broader Middle East.
"By taking the side of reformers and democrats in the Middle East, we will gain allies in the war on terror and isolate the ideology of murder and help defeat the despair and hopelessness that feeds terror," he said. "The world will become a much safer place as democracy advances."
Bush said the United States and Canada "face common threats in our world, and we share common goals that can transform our world."
The two countries are "bound by history and geography and trade and by our deepest convictions," he said. "With so much in common and so much at stake, we cannot be divided."