NSB Ink | Notes from our CEO on Romeo Dallaire

Today’s guest blog is from NSB CEO Theresa BeenkenTheresa

General Dallaire’s last speech in the Senate challenged us all to step up and fulfill our potential.

The question is: When will Canada finally answer the call? At a recent NSB team meeting, we all shared a favourite quote that inspires us. My quote was from the wordsmith Winston Churchill who stated, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”  I find it speaks to resilience and choice.  Choose to move forward. Choose to find your way through.   It’s not always easy. So, it put a smile to my face to see General Dallaire’s last speech to the Senate opening with humorous quotes from Churchill.  Having known the General for more than a decade now, I’ve always appreciated his sense of humour.   It’s a contrast and some levity for the serious and determined man he most often is. It’s been heartwarming to see some of the feedback from his announcement of resigning from the Senate.  He’s a true hero and respected Canadian, recently named one of the few living Canadians on the top 10 Canadian heroes list.   And he’s committed to an impactful mission:  to eradicate the use of child soldiers worldwide. With his last speech for the Senate, he will now have more time to dedicate to his international work, and to share his inspiring and challenging messages to audiences across Canada and around the world. We’re honoured to represent him. ——————– Here are some excerpts from the Hansard record of General Dallaire’s final Senate speech, June 17, 2014 (our bolding). See the speech in it’s entirely at Macleans: “We are one of the 11 most powerful nations in the world. We are not sixty-ninth or seventieth. There are 193 nations in the world and we are part of the 11 most powerful. Three years from now, we will have that incredible year with the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the country and the hundredth anniversary of us becoming not only a democracy but a nation state. It will be upon us and my question is: What is the plan? What are we going to provide Canadians? What is the vision for us in this very complex and ambiguous era in which we’ve stumbled into? So far, I think that all I am seeing is commemorating with big chocolate cakes and maybe a few centennial rinks, but we are worthy of far more than that. I do hope we will produce something that will give that intellectual guidance and focus for this great nation to maximize its potential, which it has not done since World War II. We have not shot above our strength since World War II. We have pushed the limits of a nation like ours as a middle power — and that’s fine — but we haven’t overstepped it. We haven’t pushed all of our potential. Since then, we have been building our ability to be not only operational but strategic. That is the arena in which we should be playing. We are a leading middle power in the world, and we have a responsibility to be strategic, to commit strategically and to consider the visions, options and risks, strategically, as a grand nation of the world and a nation to which some look up to. They look up to us because of our work ethic, because we master technology, because we believe in human rights — it is in our fundamental laws — and they look up to us because we don’t seek to subjugate anybody else. …Canada still has a role to play; it simply needs to reclaim its position as a leader in resolving international conflicts and preventing atrocities. Canada is not currently fulfilling that role. What we do have, however, is a proud tradition of championing human rights and peace around the world. Indeed, Canadians played a key role in the creation of the Charter of the United Nations; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Criminal Court; the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction; and the Responsibility to Protect. We more or less invented modern peacekeeping. We have a vibrant civil society that won’t stop banging at the door even after we’ve changed the locks. Indeed, we have many tools we can deploy in our engagement with the world. We most definitely have a citizenry that takes pride in all of the above. I have said this before, but I cannot stress it enough: If we are to overcome the challenges facing the world today, we need transcendent leadership with the deepest conviction and the most honourable of intentions. In other words, we need statesmanship. There is a dearth of statesmanship, of taking risk, demonstrating flexibility, innovation and humility. The question is: When will Canada finally answer the call again?”