’It always gives you more than one opportunity to prevail’

Stephane Dion accepts the 2011 Couchiching Award for Leadership in Public Policy.

Reading Couchiching President Gwen Burrows’s good-news letter, the first thought that crossed my mind was how fortunate we are, in a democracy such as Canada, to be allowed to fight for our convictions, safe from any political system threat to our freedom and wellbeing.

How fortunate to be free to accept an award from an independent and non-partisan institution, an institution shaped by a diversity of people – Liberals like me, but also others – Conservatives, New Democrats, Greens…!  Men and women who might not have voted for me or supported my policies, but who give me credit for having fought for my ideas, my ideals and my fellow human beings. It is institutions like this that make Canada a better democracy.

Democracy.  That is the theme that underlies my address today.  You have been kind enough to say that I have showed leadership.  What I know for sure is that whatever leadership I might have shown was inspired by the democratic ideal, an ideal that pushed me to fight for a united Canada, a better Canada.