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Ladies and Gentlemen, Mesdames et Messieurs, welcome to the Italian National Day, bienvenue à la Fête nationale italienne!

I am very glad to celebrate this great event with all of you today and I am particularly proud to host it with the generous support of Ferrero and of the sponsors of the Italian Canadian Community.
Let me also thank the Saint Anthony’s Church Choir and the Ottawa University Brass Ensemble for enhancing this event.

The anniversary of the birth of the Italian Republic, which we celebrate today, coincides with another historic event: 2015 marks, in fact, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the liberation of Italy from Nazi-Fascism, in which 92,000 Canadian troops played a determining role fighting during the Italian Campaign and in particular in the battles of Montecassino, Ortona, and of the Liri Valley.
We must never forget the generosity, the sacrifices, and the blood shed by the 6,000 Canadian military who never returned to their homes in order to save ours, who would never again embrace their families so that our families could raise their children in a free country and live in a better future. To these brave and valiant soldiers, and to Canada, we owe an eternal debt of gratitude because it is from them, that the generations raised in Italy in the post-war years received the gifts of freedom, peace, democracy, security and prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The close friendship between Italy and Canada is founded on many years of working closely together in NATO, within the United Nations, the G7, the G20, and on deeply shared views on all international issues. Mais cette relation privilégiée repose aussi sur les centaines de milliers de ressortissants d’origine italienne qui représentent le trait d’union idéal entre les deux pays et qui ont conquis des positions de très haut niveau en contribuant avec leur travail, au progrès et au succès du Canada dans le monde et a créer un modèle de société parmi les plus accueillants et les plus évolués du monde.

Today more than ever Italy considers Canada a key partner in order to build a future of freedom, peace and prosperity around the world and a great ally with whom we share principles and values, as Canadian values are also Italian values. There is an absolutely a common vision between Rome and Ottawa on issues of paramount importance as international security, economy, the protection of people in need. The joint efforts in international crises areas, the initiatives in favor of disarmament, the participation to peacekeeping missions, the fight against terrorism ad well as the promotion of human rights are the main examples of the initiatives that Italy and Canada have shared in the last 70 years. Today Canada and Italy are united by shared belief in freedom for all people and on that perspective are working actively together to promote stability in Ukraine.

If our political cooperation is very strong, our economic relationship is also growing stronger. Today, Italy is Canada’s 8th largest trading partner both for export as well as for imports. In 2014, Canada imported more than $6.4 billion in merchandise from Italy. That includes a lot of wine (almost half a billion dollars) – confirming that Canadians have excellent taste. Meanwhile, Italian investment in Canada was valued at nearly $1.3 billion at the end of 2014.
Toutes les conditions sont là, bien évidemment, pour développer ultérieurement ces relations dans tous les domaines en commençant par la culture, l’enseignement de la langue italienne, l’innovation technologique et la coopération dans les domaines économiques et industriels, notamment dans les secteurs de l’aéronautique, de l’énergie et des ressources naturelles. Sans compter que la collaboration entre Rome et Ottawa connaitra un élan spectaculaire lorsque l’accord commercial entre le Canada et l’Union Européenne sera signe et entrera en vigueur. Et c’est justement de l’accord de libre échange Canada-Union Européenne, ainsi que des questions de sécurité globale et des relations commerciales entre le Canada et l’Italie que discuteront le 11 juin prochain à Rome le Premier Ministre du Canada Stephen Harper et le Président du Conseil italien Matteo Renzi lors de leur prochaine rencontre bilatérale.

CETA will offer in fact great opportunities to Italian companies in both the traditional consumer goods sectors (agri-food, fashion, home furnishings) and the more innovative, high-tech sectors: infrastructure, construction, engineering, oil and gas, as well as alternative energy sources. At the same time it will be easier for Canadian companies to access the Italian market, and invest in Italy in the tourism, infrastructure, and high-tech sectors.

But this year’s celebration also invites us to remember. To remember and to honour the memory of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, victims of the odious terrorist attacks of October 20th and 22nd 2014.
I have the deepest admiration for the Armed Forces, for the Canadian people and the Canadian authorities, who showed such remarkable calm and composure at one of the most dramatic times in this country’s history. I will never forget the solemnity of the session in Parliament when all the Members of Parliament stood and sang Canada’s national anthem together, with pride, resolute and united before the country and the world. As Prime Minister Renzi recalled in his letter to Prime Minister Harper, Italy stands by Canada, to which it is bound by deep ties of friendship and shared values. And together with Canada it will never bow to threats or intimidation, and together with Canada it will defend the rights, the freedoms, and the values won over 150 years of history and at the cost of two world wars.

Happy Italian National Day to all of you! Bonne fête nationale italienne à vous tous, vive l’Italie, vive le Canada!