Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak in the House today about Canada's proud tradition of constitutional monarchy. Unlike the separatist Bloc Québécois, our Conservative government appreciates the monarch's fundamental importance to our democratic governance.
Since our earliest days, we have looked to the Crown for inspiration. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight Canada's special relationship with the monarchy and its privileged role as a member of the Commonwealth.
The Queen has a unique relationship with Canada entirely separate from her role as Queen of the United Kingdom or of any of her other realms. Her Majesty personifies the state and the personal symbol of allegiance and unity for all Canadians.
Although many of her duties have been delegated to the Governor General, the Queen herself has a very personal involvement with Canada and with Canadians. Her service and dedication to our country is especially apparent in her support of the important of Canadian charities. The Queen's patronages include: the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Red Cross Society, the Royal Canadian Humane Association and Save The Children Canada.
The Queen also has a special relationship with the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces, acting as Colonel-in-Chief of various regiments, including the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, the King's Own Calgary Regiment, the Royal 22nd Regiment, the Governor General's Foot Guards, the Governor General's Horse Guards, the Canadian Grenadier Guards, the Régiment de la Chaudière, the Calgary Highlanders, the Royal New Brunswick Regiment, the 48th Highlanders of Canada, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, the Royal Canadian Air Force Auxiliary, the Canadian Forces Military Engineers Branch and the Air Reserve.
Although she resides in the United Kingdom, the Queen honours Canadian achievements. For example, she hosted the reception for Canadian achievers at Buckingham Palace in 2005.
Through regular visits to Canada, the Queen meets as many Canadians as possible in every region, community, culture and area of Canadian life, travelling to Canada over 20 times over the course of 60 years together with the Duke of Edinburgh.
She made her first visit as Princess Elizabeth in 1951, travelling 10,000 miles using every means of transport imaginable and attending a square dance at Rideau Hall. Since then, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh have visited all the provinces in Canada and have been witness to many historic occasions.
In 1957 the Queen officially opened the first session of the 23rd Parliament, becoming the first reigning Canadian monarch to read the Speech from the Throne.
In 1959 the Queen opened the new St. Lawrence Seaway with President Eisenhower and visited many remote districts never before seen by a reigning monarch. During that visit, the Queen undertook her first and only foreign visit as the Queen of Canada when she met President Eisenhower in Washington, D.C.
In 1967 Her Majesty celebrated the Centennial of Confederation with a visit to Expo in Montreal and while in Ottawa, she cut a nine metre high birthday cake right here on Parliament Hill.
The Queen has also been a welcomed presence at a number of important sporting occasions. She opened the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976 and officiated at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton in 1978 and in Victoria in 1994.
In 1977 the Queen shared her Silver Jubilee celebrations with Canada and in 1982 the Queen travelled to Ottawa for the patriation of the Canadian Constitution, a fundamental demonstration of how our constitutional monarchy has grown and adapted over time.
To mark her Golden Jubilee in 2002, the Queen toured Canada extensively, visiting British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and the National Capital Region, as well as making her first visit to the new territory of Nunavut.
On her last visit in 2005, the Queen described the warmth and affection she feels for Canada:
And as in all our visits down the years, whether watching a chuck wagon race at the Calgary Stampede or athletic prowess at the Montréal Olympics, whether listening to an Inuit song of greeting in Nunavut or the skirl of pipes in Nova Scotia, I have always felt not only welcome but at home in Canada.
All Canadians look forward to welcoming her back again this summer to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty's accession to the throne as Queen of Canada and a time to celebrate our country's achievements.
The Jubilee year is also a time to reflect on our friendship with the Commonwealth, a voluntary organization of 54 independent countries united by their shared history.
Dedicated to the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multiculturalism and world peace, the Commonwealth also serves as a forum for a number of non-government organizations we know as the Commonwealth family.
Probably best known for the Commonwealth Games, an international sporting event frequently held at home in Canada, these organizations strengthen our shared culture through sports, literary heritage, politics and the law.
Indeed, our relationship with these countries is so privileged that we do not consider the Commonwealth countries to be foreign to one another, designating diplomatic missions between Commonwealth countries as high commissions rather than embassies.
Just a few weeks ago, Canadians celebrated Commonwealth Day, along with 2 billion people from all across the globe. The theme for 2012, Connecting Cultures, is about sharing our traditions and customs with one another.
In the words of our Governor General, David Johnston:
In a world where our means of communication have become lightning-fast, humanity must learn to see beyond borders and beneath the veneer of appearance to discover how much we truly have in common.
As head of the Commonwealth for over 55 years, the Queen personally reinforces the links by which the Commonwealth joins people together from around the world, filling an important symbolic and unifying role. Whether travelling overseas to meet citizens and their leaders, presiding at the opening of a sporting event or presenting her annual Christmas and Commonwealth Day messages, the Queen acts as a personal link and a human symbol of the Commonwealth as an international organization.
As Canadians, our democratic traditions define and unite us.
Unlike the separatist Bloc which seeks to play the tired politics of division at every turn, our Conservative government is proud of traditions, history, symbols, values and institutions which make our country great, all of which are embodied by the Canadian Crown.
God save the Queen.