Please note: Speeches appear in the language in which they were delivered.Chancellor, Members of the Senate, President, Dean, faculty, guests, family and friends — and most importantly, the class of 2006:
Comme c’est agréable d’être de retour chez soi.
I am honoured to be with all of you.
And I’m just as proud as you are to have family here with me today. I’m so pleased my mother could be here.
Just last week, I asked her how she thought I was doing in the job.
She said: “I don’t know about the Premier thing, but as a son, I’m still looking for signs of improvement.”
I remember my very first visit to the University of Ottawa campus.
I was about ten years old.
My father was a professor of English Literature here.
To get us out of my Mom’s hair, my Dad took me and a handful of my nine brothers and sisters to his English department office — what in those days was a single-family home on Waller Street converted into offices.
To get us out of his hair, my Dad sent us out to play on the front porch, which we quickly, and noisily, turned into a wrestling ring.
Apparently, the noise we created amounted to a violation of an important academic freedom — the freedom to hear yourself think.
Soon, another prof came running outside to try and shoo us off the porch, in the hope we would never return.
But I came back.
In fact, 25 years ago, I sat where you sit today.
And this fall, I am proud to say, a son of mine will begin his studies at our law school.
Over the years, about 15 McGuintys — brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews of mine — have studied at the University of Ottawa.
And each of us has harboured a secret fear, that when a degree is conferred upon us, the chancellor will extend her hand ... and say: “Now get off the porch!”
You know, my cousin’s wife Julie is part of today’s graduating class, which confirms that our family is continuing to do its part to keep our faculty members employed.
Such is the depth of our commitment to our alma mater!
I am deeply grateful and humbled by the honour I have received today.
Je vous suis profondément reconnaissant et cet honneur me remplit d’humilité.
Je suis reconnaissant envers l’Université d’Ottawa et son école de droit…
Pour les possibilités de réussir qu’elles procurent à la population de l’Ontario…
Et pour la contribution particulière qu’elles font à notre pays:
Tout particulièrement, parce que c’est une université bilingue…
Et tout particulièrement, parce que cette école de droit est un reflet de la dualité concernant les origines de notre pays et la dualité de ses fondements juridiques.
Alors que j’observe ce groupe de nouveaux diplômés, je suis fier non seulement de cette dualité mais également de cette diversité car il s’agit bien de la preuve que notre Canada est bel et bien un pays qui donne la possibilité de réussir à tous et toutes.
But most of all, I’m proud to share with you a day that is filled with hope — hope for your future, and hope for the future we all share.
So I want to conclude by asking you to do one thing: Hold onto hope.
I mean the kind of hope that acts as an irresistible force in your life, that drives you, that allows you to be inspired by a rich idealism and a relentless optimism.
Hold onto the hope you feel today.
It sounds easy. But it’s not.
As time goes by, everyday life can rob you of your hope and replace it with cynicism. Beware of the cynics.
They will tell you our world is spinning out of control and there is nothing we can do.
You will meet no end of people who will tell you what you can’t do, why you can’t do it and why it doesn’t matter anyway.
People told me I would never be Premier and that, even if I got the job, I couldn’t change things for the better.
I devote every hour of every working day to proving them wrong.
I remain inspired by a powerful sense of hope for the people I am privileged to serve.
Hope is how you got here.
From the moment your parents brought you into this world, they were filled with hope, for you.
You pursued your studies with the hope they would lead to greater opportunity for you and your family.
One of my father’s favourite poets, Woodsworth, defined “hope” best of all.
He described it as “the paramount duty that heaven lays, for its own sake, on man’s suffering heart.”
I love this notion of hope as a duty.
Our shared responsibility is to be hopeful and to bring hope to others.
Graduates, congratulations on your wonderful achievement. My wish for you is that you all do well for yourselves and do good for others.
And that you always, always, be hopeful.
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