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is meeting with members of the 9/11 Commission about the bill. I am--I 
believe the bill is necessary and important and hope we can get it done 
next week and look forward to talking to Speaker Hastert and Leader 
Frist here before the week is out to express to them why I just told you 
in public I'm for the bill--again.
    Thank you.

[[Page 2885]]

    Prime Minister Martin. Thank you.
    President Bush. Gregory [David Gregory, NBC News], the Prime 
Minister needs a translator. [Laughter]

Note: The President's news conference began at 2:13 p.m. at the Lester 
B. Pearson Building. In his remarks, the President referred to President 
Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland; former President Saddam Hussein of 
Iraq; and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Prime Minister Martin 
referred to Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan and Minister of Foreign 
Affairs Pierre Pettigrew of Canada. A portion of the Prime Minister's 
remarks and some questions from the Canadian press were in French, and 
an English translation was provided.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2885]
Pages 2869	2907
Week Ending Friday, December 3, 2004
Statement on the Resignation of
Tom Ridge as Secretary of
Homeland Security

November 30, 2004

    Tom Ridge has been a key member of my Cabinet, working to help make 
America safer and stronger. As the Nation's first Assistant to the 
President for Homeland Security and first Secretary of Homeland 
Security, he oversaw the most extensive reorganization of the Federal 
Government in 50 years. His efforts have resulted in safer skies, 
increased border and port security, and enhanced measures to safeguard 
our critical infrastructure and the American public. In the fight 
against terrorism, he has played a vital role in protecting the American 
people from a real and ongoing threat.
    Tom has served America for decades, including as a decorated Army 
soldier, as a United States Congressman, and as Governor of 
Pennsylvania. He is a long-time friend, and I thank him for his 
leadership and dedicated service to our country. America is safer and 
our Government is better able to protect our people because of his hard 
work. I wish him and Michele all the best.

 Note: The Office of the Press Secretary also made available Secretary 
Ridge's letter of resignation.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2885-2886]
Pages 2869	2907
Week Ending Friday, December 3, 2004
Remarks at a Dinner Hosted by Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada in 
Gatineau, Canada

November 30, 2004

    Thank you all. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you all very 
much. Thank you. The Prime Minister just said, ``It's good to be home.'' 
I'm here to tell you, it's good to be in Canada. I want to thank you for 
the warm reception, and I was pleased to see when I opened up the menu 
that we'll be eating Alberta beef.
    Mr. Prime Minister, Madam First Lady, former Prime Ministers, 
distinguished leaders of Canada, distinguished guests, and ladies and 
gentlemen, Laura and I are really honored to be here in this great 
nation. Canada is an old friend. Canada is an honored ally of America.
    On this magnificent museum's coat of arms is a motto: Many cultures 
in one country. In your nation and in mine, people of many cultures, 
races, and religions embrace a set of ideals that proclaim the liberty 
and equality of all. These principles are the source of great unity in 
our diverse lands, and they are the foundation of a close and warm 
friendship between our two nations.
    Our common bond of values and mutual respect have created an 
alliance that is unsurpassed in strength and depth and potential. Ours 
is one of the largest trading relationships in the world. We depend on 
each other to secure the energy resources that help our economies 
expand. We work together to protect the land and waters of our beautiful 
continent. Most importantly, our nations work together to protect our 
people from harm.
    For nearly 50 years, the military personnel of your nation and mine 
have worked together as a single unit at NORAD to monitor the air 
approaches to North America and to protect us from attack. On September 
the 11th, it was a Canadian general, holding the chair at NORAD, who 
gave the order to initiate our defenses. In an era of new threats, 
American and Canadian law enforcement and intelligence agencies are 
working more closely than ever before, and our peoples are more secure 
because of it.

[[Page 2886]]

    We also share the mission of spreading the blessings of liberty 
around the world. In October of this year, millions of Afghans, 
including millions of women, voted peacefully to elect a leader of 
moderation. We're working together for stability and prosperity in Haiti 
and the Sudan. With Canada's generous contribution, the reconstruction 
of Iraq will help that nation become a peaceful democracy.
    Our efforts in these troubled regions are driven by our faith, faith 
in the ability of liberty to unite different cultures, races, and 
religions and faith in the ability of liberty to lift up people, to 
offer an alternative to hate and violence, and to change the world for 
the better.
    And so, Mr. Prime Minister, in admiration for all you've done to 
create a world governed by liberty and justice and friendship, I offer a 
toast to you, to the people of Canada, and to the friendship of our two 

Note: The President spoke at 7:15 p.m. at the Canadian Museum of 
Civilization. In his remarks, he referred to Sheila Martin, wife of 
Prime Minister Martin; former Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and John 
Napier Turner of Canada; Lt. Gen. E.A. Findley, Canadian Forces, deputy 
commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command; and President Hamid 
Karzai of Afghanistan. The Canadian Museum of Civilization is located 
across the Ottawa River from Ottawa, Ontario. The transcript released by 
the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Prime 
Minister Martin.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2886]
Pages 2869	2907
Week Ending Friday, December 3, 2004
Statement on Signing the Veterans Health Programs Improvement Act of 

November 30, 2004

    Today, I have signed into law H.R. 3936, the ``Veterans Health 
Programs Improvement Act of 2004.'' The Act is designed to strengthen 
the management and administration of health care facilities and programs 
for our Nation's veterans.
    Section 414(e)(4)(D) of the Act requires the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs (Secretary) to include, in a written notice of a mission change 
for any of several departmental medical facilities, an analysis of any 
alternatives to the mission change proposed by the Department of 
Veterans Affairs. The executive branch shall construe this provision in 
a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to 
supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information the 
disclosure of which could impair the deliberative processes of the 
Executive or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties.
    Section 501(c) of the Act purports to require the Secretary to 
submit to the Congress recommendations for changes in law in certain 
circumstances. The executive branch shall implement this provision in a 
manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to 
supervise the unitary executive branch and to recommend for the 
consideration of the Congress such measures as the President judges 
necessary and expedient.
                                                George W. Bush
 The White House,
 November 30, 2004.

Note: H.R. 3936, approved November 30, was assigned Public Law No. 108-
422. This statement was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on 
December 1. An original was not available for verification of the 
content of this statement.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2886-2891]
Pages 2869	2907
Week Ending Friday, December 3, 2004
Remarks in Halifax, Canada

December 1, 2004

    Thank you very much. Please be seated. Thank you all very much. 
Thanks for the warm welcome. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you, and Mrs. 
Martin, for a fantastic dinner last night in Ottawa. We really loved it. 
My only regret today is that Laura is not with me. She is--went home to 
thank those who have been decorating the White House for the great 
Christmas season that's coming up. I married well. [Laughter]
    I appreciate the Premiers who are here. Premier Hamm, thank you for 
your hospitality. Premier Lord, Premier Binns, and Premier Williams, I 
appreciate you all joining. I want to specifically mention the Premiers 
because, as an ex-Governor, I feel a special kinship to those who--
[laughter]--run the provinces here in Canada. But thank you for your 
service. Ambassador Cellucci, mayors, local officials, distinguished 
guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be with you

[[Page 2887]]

today to reaffirm America's enduring ties to your country. I am really 
glad to be in Canada, and I'm really glad to be among friends. I 
appreciate the warm hospitality we've received.
    In the past year, I've come to know your new Prime Minister. We've 
met in Mexico, in the United States, in Chile, and now in Canada. Paul 
Martin is a leader who is asserting Canada's good influence in the 
world. And as I prepare for a second term in office, I look forward to a 
successful working partnership between our two countries.
    Paul and I share a great vision for the future, two prosperous, 
independent nations joined together by the return of NHL hockey. 
    I told Paul that I really have only one regret about this visit to 
Canada. There's a prominent citizen who endorsed me in the 2000 
election, and I wanted a chance to finally thank him for that 
endorsement. I was hoping to meet Jean Poutine. [Laughter]
    I'm proud to stand in this historic place, which has welcomed home 
so many Canadians who defended liberty overseas and where so many new 
Canadians began their North American dream. I'm grateful for the 
hospitality shown by the people of this fine city who have been so very 
kind to Americans before.
    Three years ago, Halifax and other towns and villages, from 
Newfoundland to Manitoba to the Northwest Territories to British 
Columbia, welcomed, as the Prime Minister mentioned, more than 33,000 
passengers on diverted flights. For days after September the 11th, 
Canadians came to the aid of men and women and children who were worried 
and confused and had nowhere to sleep. You opened your homes and your 
churches to strangers. You brought food, you set up clinics, you 
arranged for calls to their loved ones, and you asked for nothing in 
    One American declared, ``My heart is overwhelmed at the outpouring 
of Canadian compassion. How does a person say thank you to a nation?'' 
Well, that's something a President can do. And so let me say directly to 
the Canadian people and to all of you here today who welcomed Americans, 
thank you for your kindness to America in an hour of need.
    That emergency revealed the good and generous heart of this country 
and showed the true feelings of Canadians and Americans toward each 
other. The affection that appeared in an instant will always be there, 
and it runs deep. Beyond the words of politicians and the natural 
disagreements that nations will have, our two peoples are one family and 
always will be.
    We're united in part by the daily contact of commerce, and both our 
nations are better off for it. In the 10 years since the North American 
Free Trade Agreement was enacted, trade between the United States and 
Canada has nearly doubled. Twenty-three percent of America's exports go 
directly north, and more than 80 percent of Canadians' exports go to my 
country. With so much trade, there are bound to be some disagreements. I 
proudly ate some Alberta beef last night, and--[laughter]--I'm still 
standing. [Laughter] With determined efforts and relying on sound 
science and mutual good will, we can resolve issues. Take, for example, 
those PEI potatoes. [Laughter]
    Right, Mr. Premier? [Laughter]
    Canada represents America's most vital trade relationship in the 
whole world, and we will do all that is necessary to keep that 
relationship strong.
    Yet, our ties go deeper than trade. Our community of values reaches 
back centuries. Canada and the U.S. may have disagreed on the wisdom of 
separating from the Crown, but we've always agreed on the great 
principles of liberty derived from our common heritage. We believe in 
the dignity of every human life, and we believe in the right of every 
person to live in freedom. We believe in free markets, humanized by 
compassion and fairness. We believe a diverse society can also be united 
by principles of justice and equality. The values we hold have made us 
good neighbors for centuries, and they will keep us as strong allies and 
good friends for the centuries to come.
    These shared convictions have also led our great democracies to 
accept a mission in the wider world. We know it is not possible to live 
in quiet isolation of our peaceful continent, hoping the problems and 
challenges of other nations will pass us by. We know there can be no 
security, no lasting peace

[[Page 2888]]

in a world where proliferation and terrorism and genocide and extreme 
poverty go unopposed.
    We know that our own interests are served by an international system 
that advances human rights and open societies and free trade and the 
rule of law and the hope that comes from self-government. Both Canada 
and the United States have accepted important global duties, and we will 
meet those responsibilities for our own benefit and for the good of 
    Canada's leadership is helping to build a better world. Over the 
past decade, Canadian troops have helped bring stability to Bosnia and 
Kosovo. Canada's willingness to send peacekeepers to Haiti saved 
thousands of lives and helped save Haiti's constitutional government. 
Canadian troops are serving bravely in Afghanistan at this hour. Other 
Canadians stand on guard for peace in the Middle East, in Cyprus, Sudan, 
and the Congo.

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