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Some parting thoughts

In a week or so my wife, Alexandra, and I will pack our bags to return to Canada.  We have had a couple of tearful moments, including our last Canada Day Party on July 1st, attended by Princess Margriet, Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker, the Presidents of the Senate and the Council of State and 700 other friends of Canada! That event also allowed me to thank other departing staff including Canadians Nicolas Sabourin, Jamie Pennell, Jacqueline Solis and Jessie Rai.  And, in particular, I wanted to recognize the retirements and lifetime contributions of Dutch employees Theo van ’t Wout and Miquette Lulofs after 33 and 25 years at the Embassy respectively.

But, I didn’t want to leave myself without reaching out on social media one last time with a couple of parting thoughts. 

The first is that we should all feel lucky and proud of the great Canada-Netherlands friendship that exists today. 

We certainly celebrated this special relationship over the last year, including with reciprocal visits by our Governor General and Mrs. Johnston, PM and Mrs. Harper and King Willem Alexander and Queen Máxima.  But perhaps most evocative and heartfelt was the return to the Netherlands in May this year of over 100 Canadian veterans recalling the valiant role they played 70 years ago in ending Nazi occupation and restoring “vreiheid”!

Our stay here coincided as well with the signature of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Netherlands was the site of the first PM-led CETA promotion mission in March 2014.  This was no accident!

The Hague also styles itself as the “International City of Peace and Justice”, and home to the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the Nobel prize-winning Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).  Representing Canada before these institutions has been fascinating, including accompanying OPCW DG Üzümcü to Oslo to collect the Peace Prize (a lifetime memory!)

The full range of Embassy activity over that period is too great to detail here.  But it is important to note that corporate sponsors have been helpful in our delivery of key cultural events such as the 2012 Group of Seven exhibition at the Groninger Museum.  The Netherlands-Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been an indispensable partner throughout, and I continue to urge all companies, Dutch or Canadian, who benefit from our economic relations to join this forum for exchange and networking.

I have been proud too of our annual charity dinner dance that has raised over $25,000 for the Royal Canadian Legion in the Netherlands over the last couple of years. (I enjoyed jamming with the Dutch Foreign Ministry Garage Band on that and several other occasions, but did promise not to quit my day job!)

Finally, to the list of Twitter followers that has grown to a respectable 2,500 in both languages, as well as those who interact with us on Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms, let me thank you for your interest in the Canada-Netherlands relationship and in Canadian diplomacy abroad and for your contribution to Canada’s social media conversation. 

Three years ago we were one of the first Canadian Embassies to adopt this new technology (better late than never).  Today more than 70 Canadian missions have a social media presence and interesting experiments in direct diplomacy and open policy discussions enliven our work and broaden our options. Thanks in particular to Nicolas Sabourin who has supported this project within the Embassy, in the process becoming one of our department’s leading social media experts.

On that note, I bid you farewell. I look forward to rejoining this conversation from my next post!

Ambassador James M. Lambert
Thursday, July 23, 2015




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