The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Order of Military Merit Investiture Ceremony

Rideau Hall, Monday, March 6, 2017


What a pleasure to welcome so many fine men and women in uniform to Rideau Hall in this, Canada’s 150th birthday year.

One of the great honours of my life has been to serve as commander-in-chief of Canada.

I always learn something when I speak to members of the Canadian Armed Forces. And this comes as no surprise, because the Canadian Armed Forces is a learning organization.

I would like to highlight your commitment to learning for a moment.

As you well know, members of the Forces conduct what is known as an after action review following any exercise or operation.

What’s an after action review? It’s simply a quick debrief held immediately following an activity involving its participants.

I know because I participated in several during training exercises in Petawawa. So did my wife, Sharon, who is Honorary Captain (N) to Military Personnel Command, and a number of Rideau Hall staff, who spent the day with troops to learn more about what you do every day.

Key questions are asked during an after action review, including:

  1. what happened;

  2. why it happened, and

  3. how it can be done better next time.

These are simple but very important questions. Asking them and acting upon the answers is essential to a world-class military—in fact, they’re the mark of any organization that lives by the creed of constant, relentless improvement. That asks: how do we do things better even when others tell us we’re already pretty good?

I’m sure that each of our investees into the Order of Military Merit today regularly conducts their own versions of the after action review.

That’s why they set the standard for us all.

You are where you are today because you learn the lessons and, crucially, you apply them.

In this, you set an example to those with whom you serve, and to all Canadians.

The Order of Military Merit exists to say thank you, to recognize your achievements and to highlight your conduct for all to see.

Never underestimate the impact that your example has on your fellow soldiers. You inspire others to do better—and in turn, so too will they lead by example.

I also know that while there are many wonderful aspects to life in the military, it’s not always easy for you and your loved ones. You are called upon to make real sacrifices.

Indeed, the motto of the Order—OFFICIUM ANTE COMMODUM, or “Service Before Self”—speaks to the sacrifices you make. Along with continuous improvement, this is the second of the key elements of our military. It too sets the standard for the rest of us.

We are very grateful for your sense of duty, your professionalism and your dedication to excellence. To your families and loved ones, we are also grateful.

Canada would not be the country it is without the dedication and excellence of our armed forces, past and present.

Thank you for your outstanding service, and congratulations on this well-deserved honour.