Today we mourn the loss of the 41st President of the United States and founding father of the International Democrat Union, George Herbert Walker Bush. He was truly a historic leader, a great friend and ally, and a champion of the best values of humanity.
George H. W. Bush lived an extraordinary life as an naval-aviator, an oil executive, and a public servant, including terms as Director of the CIA director, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, U.S. liaison to the People’s Republic of China, Congressman, Vice President under Ronald Reagan, and, ultimately, as President himself from 1989 to 1993.
President Bush led the world through some of history’s most pivotal moments – the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, the liberation of Kuwait from Saddam Hussein, and initiatives to reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles. The fact that Germany is today united and that virtually all the peoples of Europe are able to live in freedom and prosperity is in significant part due to the actions of President George H. W. Bush.
At the height of the Cold War in 1983, on behalf of President Reagan, Vice President Bush met with Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, and other world leaders in London to establish the International Democrat Union. His words at that moment remain as important today as they were then:
“Democracy begins with an accurate awareness to what is democracy`s purpose to protect: the sacredness of the individual. It is because democracy holds that each man, however humble, must be listened to, that democracies grant all their people a voice in government. It is because democracy believes that each man, however offensive or mistaken, possesses the right to speak and worship and earn his living as he chooses, that democracies accord all their people equal protection under the law. Democracy […] is the only form of government that is founded on the dignity of man, not the dignity of some men, or of rich men, or educated men, but of men.”
President Bush was also a great friend of Canada. Not since the days of William Howard Taft, and later, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, has Canada had the benefit of a U.S. leader who so intimately knew our nation and its people.
As Vice President, his efforts were crucial to the successful passage of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Later, he oversaw the negotiation and adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has changed our continent forever and for the better. President Bush also played a key role in helping Canada and the United States successful tackle the challenge of acid rain, to the eternal benefit of succeeding generations. In his retirement, President Bush visited Canada often, particularly the majestic areas of northern Canada. During these travels, he made countless more Canadian admirers.
Our nation has lost a cherished friend. Laureen and I would like to offer his family, including President George W. Bush and Governor Jeb Bush, his friends, and the American people the deepest condolences of a grateful neighbour. And conservatives around the world are indebted to him for his leadership in establishing the IDU and advancing our ideals of freedom and democracy around the world.