After a quick early morning interview on Canada AM about the upcoming 4th of July bash, we started our celebration by watching the Changing of the Ceremonial Guard on Parliament Hill. We did this last year and aside from all the impressive pageantry and the beautiful setting on a glorious day, I was particularly touched that the Guard honored the United States by playing American patriotic music throughout the ceremony. Hearing the Washington Post March and the Stars and Stripes Forever on the grounds of the Canadian capital reminded me of the extraordinarily close relationship between our two countries.
Posts Tagged ‘Parliament Hill’
Last night I attended a dinner hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons Peter Milliken on Parliament Hill celebrating Eid Ul-Fitr, the three day Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. The event was organized by the Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada and its President, Mobeen Khaja. This is an annual event which attracts national political and civic leaders. It celebrates tolerance, peace and charity.
There was one part of the event that I found particularly moving. After I made a few remarks, the organizers played a video of President Obama’s speech at an Iftar dinner held last month in the White House. Here I was at a Muslim holiday celebration in Ottawa, Canada. Other than my wife and a handful of others, I was probably the only U.S. citizen in the room. And we all watched the President talk about the values of religious tolerance that were central tenants in the founding of the United States (and which are shared here in Canada). You could have heard a pin drop in the room while the video of the President was playing. When he finished, there was applause. People came up to me and asked if they could get copies of the video to show to their friends and colleagues.
I am always proud to represent the people of the United States and President Obama. But last night I was especially so.
Julie and I were fortunate enough to have great seats to watch the celebration of Canada Day on Parliament Hill. The whole thing was exciting. The huge crowd. The music (love the Barenaked Ladies).
The fly-overs. The Ceremonial Guard. But without question, the highlight was when the band played “God Save the Queen” with the Queen in attendance. I must say it takes on a whole new meaning. No longer just a tune you learn in nursery school.
We went to celebrations for our wonderful host country all day long. And I loved those fireworks!
I’ve got something great to write about today – yesterday’s Doors Open Ottawa event at the U.S. Embassy. As I have said before we decided to participate for the first time since the Embassy opened 10 years ago because we represent a President and an Administration that believes that openness and transparency are keys to good government.
While opening our doors for a day, quite obviously, is not the beginning and end of transparency, I do believe it was an important step in the right direction. I also think the architecture of the Embassy building – particularly the interiors – reinforces that desire for openness and transparency.
Yesterday we had about 600 of our Ottawa neighbors come through our open doors. I was there for the first couple of hours and conducted the tours of my personal office. I showed our guests some pictures from the Obama Campaign, the photo of my 7th grade class trip to Washington (the first of many trips to that city), my collection of “challenge coins”, Presidential Commissions, family pictures and some other personal effects.
I asked every tour group the same question: now that they were inside, was the Embassy what they expected? Almost to a person they said the same thing. It was so much prettier and cheerier than they thought it would be. I explained that’s why we opened the doors. This is a place where good people (about half Canadian and half American) work hard every day to maintain and enhance the closest relationship between two countries in the world. I asked them to tell their friends what they saw and what they thought.
While our visitors seemed to be enjoying themselves, I think the Embassy staff – including me – enjoyed it even more. It was rewarding to see the excitement on our guests’ faces.
I am really glad we took part in this effort. I look forward to next year!
Spent a great American Thanksgiving weekend. Hard not to love a holiday that is dedicated to family, eating, and football. Did plenty of all three.
My kids visited us in Ottawa. They are having fun getting used to the new house. My daughter’s dog Max thinks he has gone to dog heaven. Lots of chairs to sleep on. A big yard. Too many treats. We also had a visit from my sister and her family. In addition to eating and football we took them on tours of Ottawa: Byward Market, Rideau Hall, Parliament Hill, etc. They loved it. My sister’s husband and his family are from Louisiana where the tradition is that Thanksgiving turkeys are deep fried with lots of Cajun spices. To make sure we partook adequately of the tradition, they fried us three turkeys. Fortunately we had the Marines over for dinner. So nothing went to waste.
Thanksgiving – in Canada and the US – is a time to reflect on all we have to be thankful for. For my family and me we have so much – our heath, our happiness, and the chance to represent our country here in Canada. It is also a time to think about those who are less fortunate. As usual, President Obama said it best in his Thanksgiving message:
“[Thanksgiving] is a day to remember those who cannot sit down to break bread with those they love.
The soldier overseas holding down a lonely post and missing his kids. The sailor who left her home to serve a higher calling. The folks who must spend tomorrow apart from their families to work a second job, so they can keep food on the table or send a child to school.
We are grateful beyond words for the service and hard work of so many Americans who make our country great through their sacrifice. And this year, we know that far too many face a daily struggle that puts the comfort and security we all deserve painfully out of reach.
So when we gather [on Thanksgiving], let us also use the occasion to renew our commitment to building a more peaceful and prosperous future that every American family can enjoy.’