Remarks During Visit With Embassy Ottawa Staff and Their Families
Secretary of State
Ambassador to Canada
AMBASSADOR JACOBSON: I want to welcome the Secretary here tonight – or this afternoon. Many of the people in this room know that one of my big issues is to create more energy and more excitement (inaudible) figured out a way (inaudible). (Laughter.) All I do is have the Secretary of State show up.
Everyone here respects and admires the Secretary for her career in public service, her accomplishments, and her leadership. But there’s at least one person in this room who has an additional reason to admire the Secretary, and that’s my wife Julie. Last August, before I was confirmed by the Senate, we were both ambassadors here at the State Department. Julie flew in from Chicago and met me, and the first words when she got off the plane were, “You’re going to be (inaudible).” And I said, “Well, why is that?” “You know how you told me that I wasn’t supposed to talk to the press before we got confirmed? Well, this really nice reporter (inaudible) had this really nice conversation and I don’t think I said anything wrong.” And she was right. I wasn’t too happy.
The story ran in the Globe and Mail on Saturday and it was a nice story. And the following Monday, we started the ambassadors tour, and one of the first things we did was we had the opportunity to meet the Secretary. And we went over and we said hello. I introduced Julie to the Secretary, at which point the Secretary lit up and said, “Oh, I was in Niagara Falls over the weekend and I saw that article about you, and it was great.” (Laughter.) And thankfully, Julie, (inaudible) she had me, she followed me right over to the Secretary and said, “You know, (inaudible).” (Laughter.)
So the Secretary shrugged and said, “Well, I don’t know about that, but I loved it.” And at that point, Madam Secretary, you earned the undying affection of my wife. I earned several “I told you so’s” as we walked out of the room. And so on behalf of everyone and including Julie, it is an honor and it’s a privilege to have you here. And if everyone could please join me in welcoming the Secretary (inaudible). (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you to all of you. I’m so pleased to see you and I’m especially pleased to see so many of the family members and particularly the children of the extended embassy family. Thank you very much, Ambassador, and thank you, Julie, for the warm, warm welcome. And I’m glad that I had a chance to read that article and decide for myself that you were a pretty good public diplomat, and I thank you for that.
I also want to thank Terry Breese and his wife Claudio, Dara Whitney for their service at this post, as well as so many others. I know that it is not just a person who comes to serve. What it really is, is a family, a support system. These jobs require a lot of real commitment. So I want to thank all of you for your service, not only those of you who are in the Foreign Service or the Civil Service or who are our locally employed staff, but your families as well.
As you know, our primary mandate overseas is taking care of Americans abroad and providing consular services. Well, no other country is home to more U.S. citizens than Canada. There are roughly 1 million U.S. citizens here in this country, and that’s a lot of work for each and every one of you. (Baby crying.) And I would cry too if I had to go – (laughter) – (inaudible) take care of a million of my fellow citizens.
But I want to thank you. This relationship is so important. It is a relationship of family. It’s a relationship, obviously, of the longest, most peaceful border in the world. It’s a strategic relationship on so many fronts. I just came from an important meeting about the Arctic and the role that both Canada and the United States have to play in looking for ways in order to be able to figure out how best to manage the Arctic because of climate change. You know that there are going to be many more challenges because the ice is going to be less prevalent and more –
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(In progress) – go through and you’ll have fishing ships, you’ll have people exploring for gas, oil, or minerals. And so this is an important issue that we share. And the United States and Canada have the closest economic relationship of any two nations in history. Our partnership truly is the engine of the world’s economy, and I’m confident that we both will emerge from the recent economic downturn even stronger and more prosperous than before.
One-third of the Canadian economy depends on trade with the United States, and Canada is our largest trading partner. So we really produce a lot of jobs on both sides of the border for a lot of Canadians and Americans. Whether it’s the automobile industry working side-by-side in Windsor and Detroit, or energy partnerships that use the skills and talents of both of our countries, we are a testament to open and free trade.
We also have worked together for over 60 years in the mutual defense of North America through our joint efforts such as NORAD. We are partners in NATO, we are allies in many places around the world. And we have so much that is important for us to do, and we’re going to be holding discussions tonight and tomorrow in preparation for the G-8 meeting here in Canada in the summer.
So I just can’t say enough about how critical each of you is to promoting, deepening, broadening, and strengthening the relationship between our two countries. I also love coming to Canada. I was thrilled to be able to commemorate the unveiling of the wonderful sculpture, Conjunction, by Joel Shapiro. I have had a lot of great trips to Canada long before I was ever in public life and have always been so appreciative of the gracious hospitality. Many, many years ago, I drove up the Alcan Highway before it was paved – (laughter) – and so I’ve had lots of adventures along the way. Now, I am a little disappointed, though, that the ice didn’t last very long in Rideau Canal, because I would have loved to have skated again as I did in 1999.
There’s just so much we have in common. Our relationship is so strong. We have an extraordinary opportunity to go to even greater levels of cooperation. But we can’t do it without you. So, Ambassador, thank you for your service and thanks to everyone here for all that you’re doing on behalf of this critically important relationship.
Now, I see a lot of kids here. And one thing I was hoping, maybe, is we can put – we could make a little pathway there, maybe put the children are going up the stairs, and I could get a picture with all of the young people here. How does that sound? So maybe if my folks could help organize that – so I’ll shake hands with the adults, but we’ll put the kids on the stairs and little kids in front, bigger kids further up, and kids who can’t climb stairs, we’ll figure out what to do with you.
So, thank you again for welcoming me back to Ottawa. (Applause.)