PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you. Please, everyone have a seat. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much.
Good evening. Bonjour. Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker, members of the House, members of the Senate, distinguished guests, people of Canada — thank you for this extraordinary welcome, which tempts me to just shut up and leave. (Laughter.) Because it can’t get any better than this. (Laughter.) Obviously I’m grateful for the warm welcome. I’m extraordinarily grateful for the close working relationship and friendship with your outstanding Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and his extraordinary wife, Sophie.
But I think it’s fair to say that much of this greeting is simply a reflection of the extraordinary alliance and deep friendship between Canadians and Americans.
Justin, thank you for your very kind words, and for the new energy and hope that your leadership has brought to your nation as well as to the alliance. My time in office may be nearing an end, but I know that Canada — and the world — will benefit from your leadership for years to come. (Applause.)
So Canada was the very first country that I visited as President. It was in February. (Laughter.) It was colder. (Laughter.) I was younger. (Laughter.) Michelle now refers to my hair as the Great White North. (Laughter.) And on that visit, I strolled around the ByWard Market, tried a “beaver tail” — (laughter) — which is better than it sounds. (Laughter.) And I was struck then, as I am again today, by the warmth of the Canadians. I could not be more honored to be joining you in this historic hall — this cathedral of freedom. And we Americans can never say it enough — we could not ask for a better friend or ally than Canada. (Applause.) We could not. It’s true. It is true. And we do not take it for granted.
That does not mean we don’t have our differences. As I understand it, one of the reasons the Queen chose this site for Parliament was that it was a safe distance from America’s border. (Laughter.) And I admit, in the War of 1812, American troops did some damage to Toronto. I suspect that there were some people up here who didn’t mind when the British returned the favor and burned down the White House. (Laughter.)
In more recent times, however, the only forces crossing our borders are the armies of tourists and businesspeople and families who are shopping and doing business and visiting loved ones. Our only battles take place inside the hockey rink. Even there, there’s an uneasy peace that is maintained. As Americans, we, too, celebrate the life of Mr. Hockey himself, the late, great Gordie Howe. (Applause.) Just as Canadians can salute American teams for winning more Stanley Cups in the NHL. (Laughter.)
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