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30 November 2014
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Ministers, Senators, Members of Parliament, Mr. Mayor, distinguished guests, hello.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank the staff and directors of this health clinic for such a warm welcome.
Another good hand for all the great work they do here.
Like you, Canada wants to improve maternal, newborn and child health.
Indeed, that is my country’s top international development priority.
So we are partners in this worthy cause.
I commend you on the dedication and compassion you show to your fellow citizens, and I wanted to come here today to tell you something.
You can count on our country, on Canada.
Friends, we’ve made a difference in many parts of the world by partnering with the Micronutrient Initiative.
This international non-profit organization based in Canada is a world leader in combating vitamin and mineral deficiencies around the world.
And just a few minutes ago, as Christian mentioned, I think somebody scored in the soccer game.
But we had a big moment here just a few moments ago.
I was pleased to provide the eighth billionth of their vitamin A capsules to some local children.
At least four million lives have been saved through this organization’s initiative.
Today it is my pleasure to announce that Canada will be providing additional financing to this Micronutrient Initiative from the period 2014 all the way through to 2019.
I’m pleased to have with me as I do this Mr. Joel Spicer, President of the Micronutrient Initiative.
Joe was with us at the Toronto Summit and has been a great encouragement as we grapple with these challenges.
That meeting in Toronto focused exclusively on maternal, newborn and child health, an initiative launched by Canada at the G-8 Summit in Muskoka in 2010 and recently reiterated by us at the United Nations General Assembly.
We’re acutely aware of how much work remains to be done to improve maternal and child health and we will keep raising this issue at every opportunity in Canada and on the world stage because, friends, there is simply too much at stake to remain silent.
We know how many lives can be saved.
We know how to do it, and so friends, we must get it done.
That’s what we have to do.
Today’s initiative, today’s announcement is reminding everyone of the crucial role of nutrition in this regard.
This situation is especially crucial in those countries of the Francophonie that suffer from the highest rates of malnutrition and infant mortality in the world.
Which brings me to the Summit I’ve just attended.
I’d like to say a few words on the 15th Summit, International Summit of the Francophonie which has just ended.
We have had an historic and fruitful Summit.
Historic first of all, because the first chapter in the history of the Francophonie came to a close with the departure of the legendary Senegalese Secretary General, Abdou Diouf.
Mr. Diouf now takes his place in history as one of the pioneers of the Francophonie.
Francophones worldwide owe him a deep debt of gratitude for the immense work and the tremendous example he has left us.
And, ladies and gentlemen, obviously all Canadians are very proud that our fellow citizen, former Governor General Michaëlle Jean, will be succeeding Abdou Diouf as Secretary General of the Francophonie.
We are already well aware of the intelligence, sensitivity and dignity of this exceptional woman who served our country as Governor General from 2005 to 2010.
Let’s give her a big hand.
I have no doubt that she will fulfil her new responsibilities with distinction and success.
I also want to highlight the indispensable contribution of my Canadian colleagues, especially Premier Couillard of Quebec and Premier Gallant of New Brunswick.
It was truly a Canadian team.
And in conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, the choice of Madame Jean is also an acknowledgement of the importance we place on the bilingual character of our country and the role that French, our founding language, has played for over four centuries.
So in conclusion I would say that the Summit was both historic and fruitful.
Historic because one of the founders of this organization has brought to a conclusion a long and distinguished career; fruitful because we were able to push our priorities, maternal, newborn and child health, also expressing our strong opposition to early and forced marriage.
We’ve also stressed and strengthened our solidarity with West Africa in its battle against the Ebola virus.
So thank you very much, everybody, for being here for this great announcement.