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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. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [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. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [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 peoples. 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. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 2886] Pages 2869 2907 Week Ending Friday, December 3, 2004 Statement on Signing the Veterans Health Programs Improvement Act of 2004 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. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [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. [Laughter] 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 return. 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 mankind. 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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