Cannon gives farewell address to Foreign Affairs staff

Cannon gives farewell address to Foreign Affairs staff News Staff
Mon. May. 9 2011
11:56 AM ET

Lawrence Cannon has formally bid adieu to his Foreign Affairs duties in Ottawa, telling department staff Monday that he believes Canada will continue to be a voice for democracy into the future.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon delivers a farewell speech at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa on Monday, May 9, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

Cannon gave a farewell address on Monday morning, almost a week after losing his seat in the May 2 election.

In his remarks, Cannon said that Canada's Foreign Affairs department has a clear record of promoting democracy around the world and will continue to offer support to oppressed people who are living under the thumb of dictators.

Speaking in French, Cannon said the "strength of the instinct for democracy can surprise us at times," such as in the many Arab countries where citizens have been pushing for democratic reforms this spring.

But the outgoing foreign affairs minister also said that it is not easy for Canada to help other countries undergo democratic changes, and that the country must continue to lead by example.
"We cannot export democracy or equality, like we export wheat or wood," Cannon said in French.
"The most powerful instrument that we have to contribute to the progress of democracy is the example that we give ourselves," he said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon waves after speaking to reporters following a farewell speech at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa on Monday, May 9, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Summing up his time in Ottawa, Cannon poked fun at the long hours and that the intense scrutiny that comes with the foreign affairs portfolio.
"I have learned much during my time here," he joked. "For example, briefings are rarely brief and secret intelligence is often neither."

During his many trips abroad on diplomatic business, Cannon said he became well aware of the fact that "objects in overhead bins can shift during flight and I don't need to be reminded ever again."

But on a more serious note, Cannon said he is personally disappointed that he won't be able to welcome home the returning Canadian Forces when they wind up their duties in Afghanistan later this year.
"They are all heroes for all times," Cannon said.

Cannon had been serving as Canada's foreign affairs minister until he lost his parliamentary seat in the recent election.

He was defeated by NDP candidate Mathieu Ravignat, a karate instructor with a Master's degree in political science, who was one of the dozens of New Democrats that Quebeckers sent to Ottawa in the election.

The 63-year-old Cannon was first elected to Parliament in the general election of January 2006, in which the Conservatives won their first minority government.
Cannon first served as transport minister, until he became the foreign affairs minister in late 2008.

Before working in the House of Commons, Cannon served as a city councillor in Gatineau, Que., and was previously a member of Quebec's National Assembly from 1985 to 1994.

Good bye Mr. Cannon. is like the wind, you can not see it but you can feel it...