David Johnston is the Governor-General of Canada.
The best celebrations involve friends. I am reminded of this truth today. We are just a few days away from reaching an important milestone in our country's historical journey, and of welcoming Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to take part in the celebration of 150 remarkable years. Our celebration marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation will be even more enjoyable and meaningful with these distinguished guests and friends in our company.
Canada has an especially great friend in His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. This week's Royal Tour will be his 18th official visit to our country. Since he first journeyed to Canada in July, 1970, The Prince of Wales has developed a deep and abiding affection for the natural environment, the cities and towns, and especially the people of our vast and diverse country. His Royal Highness once said that every time he arrives on our shores, a little more Canada seeps into his bloodstream and, from there, straight into his heart.
I can attest that His Royal Highness's fondness for Canada and friendship with Canadians remain strong. We exchange letters regularly and we talk at length whenever we see each other. We did so most recently in April at the solemn events in France to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
During my years as Governor-General, I have seen first-hand the Prince's eagerness to learn more about Canadians' work to preserve our environment, about the steps we are taking to achieve reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and about our efforts to support and strengthen the health and well-being of the men and women who serve in our armed forces.
His Royal Highness is eager to translate that interest into action. He has done so for decades in a variety of ways. He is a visible presence at gatherings with deep significance to Canada and Canadians. The Vimy anniversary is an ideal example.
He is a vocal champion of principles and priorities that are important to Canadians. The health of our forests and urban landscapes comes immediately to mind. In 2015, you may recall that the Prince joined world leaders at COP21 in Paris to show unity and commitment on the global issue of climate change. And he stays connected to our country through ongoing initiatives such as the Prince of Wales Forest Leadership Award, which sees Canadian forestry students visit Britain as part of an international exchange program.
His Royal Highness also maintains that constant connection through his patronages and the work of Prince's Charities Canada. Launched in 2010, Prince's Charities Canada partners with civic groups in our country to make advances for people in areas of deep concern to His Royal Highness and to Canadians.
While all initiatives of Prince's Charities Canada are deserving of attention and support, I am – as commander-in-chief – attracted most keenly to Prince's Operation Entrepreneur. It is designed to help the men and women of our armed services make the often-difficult transition from service life to civilian life, especially those servicemen and servicewomen who have been traumatized by physical and emotional wounds.
His Royal Highness understands the challenges that veterans face. He served with distinction in both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, and is an honorary colonel-in-chief for seven Canadian regiments as well as being Honorary Commissioner for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Above all, Prince's Operation Entrepreneur is animated by a principle His Royal Highness shares with all veterans: that those who have risked all ask only one thing in return – that their fellow citizens continue to stand by them when their time of service is through.
That profound trust – as well as the bonds of affection and friendship between His Royal Highness and Canadians – will be renewed and strengthened during the forthcoming Royal Tour. I know, too, that more of Canada will seep into his bloodstream and to his heart during this year's very special Canada Day. It is a celebration to share with friends and an ideal opportunity for me and for all Canadians to express our fondness for and appreciation of His Royal Highness – a true friend of Canada.