Canada, My Beloved Country of Choice
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 23 Jun 1992, p. 28-32
McCormack, William, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Royal Commonwealth Society.
Citizenship and responsibility. Personal reminiscences. The Metropolitan Police Force. What it means to be a Canadian.
Date of Original
23 Jun 1992
Language of Item
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
William McCormack, Chief of Police, Metropolitan Toronto Police Force
Chairman: George Hanson
Chairman, The Royal Commonwealth Society, Toronto
Introduction by Major General Bruce Legge

Your Honour, My Lord The Chief Justice, the mayors of the cities of Metropolitan Toronto, distinguished guests and members of The Empire Club of Canada and The Royal Commonwealth Society of Toronto, it is a great honour for me to introduce the Chief of Police of Metropolitan Toronto, William McCormack, to this twelfth annual Canada Day luncheon.

He will speak on the subject, Canada, My Beloved Country of Choice. Now this is quite an accomplishment because Mr. McCormack has five countries to love. He was brought up in Mauritius, a sister Commonwealth nation, he was trained for policing in England and served in the British Merchant Navy as a radio officer during the Korean War. He graduated from the University of Dublin in Ireland. He served with the Bermuda Police Force for five years and there married a Canadian tourist, Jean Pernick. They are now the proud parents of five children and six grandchildren.

This Canadian connection brought him to the Toronto Police and after 30 years of distinguished service as a detective in homicide, as a detective-sergeant, as a superintendent in internal affairs and then in public affairs, he was promoted to Chief of Police in 1989. However, as the great English writer, W. A. Gilbert, wrote: "When constabulary duty's to be done, a policeman's lot is not a happy one."

Everyone in this room, from the youngest girl or boy in the cadets to the Sunnybrook veterans, to the professional and business executives, to the Chief Justice, will know the harshness of police duty. Even my favourite Canadian anarchist, Emma Goldman, knew that.

Another Canadian movie actor, Victor Jory, had the sharp phrase: The law keeps the police in handcuffs.

Now Your Honour, Canadian actors seem to know a lot about the police. Max Senate, who became a multi-millionaire making slapstick movies, said: "When the audience is thinking, they can't be laughing" and he observed "In Canada, where I was fetched up, life was cold and serious."

Canadians are not congenitally comic. Ever hear of them cracking wise at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police?

Now the police have never lacked critics but in the days of the great Queen Empress Victoria Regina, Sir Robert Peel organized the Metropolitan Police of London and said the police are the people of London and the people of London are the police. William McCormack has followed that essential example in Toronto.

In the reign of that same great Queen Victoria the government of Canada was endowed with the awesome duty of producing peace, order and good government for all Canadians. And when Ontario was searching for a motto she decided on: Loyal She Began and Loyal She Remains. So it is in both cases with the Toronto Police of Chief McCormack.

Critics are here to criticize and one of the greatest was the movie tycoon Sam Goldwyn who used to write to all his producers when they got a task: Spare no expense to make everything as economical as possible. And so it is, Chairman, with the police providers. And on a droll note, is there a lesson for these providers in this anecdote?

Sam Goldwyn was absolutely furious when David Niven rejoined his regiment in Britain in 1939 to fight the Nazis, thus breaking his movie contract with Sam Goldwyn. Goldwyn bitterly telegraphed Niven: "I'll cable Hitler and ask him to shoot around you."

Chief McCormack, may everyone shoot around your fine officers. May it please Your Honour, William McCormack, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, the Chief of Police of Metropolitan Toronto, and a Canadian by choice.

William McCormack

Ladies and Gentlemen I am not only humbled but honoured beyond measure to have this great opportunity to speak on a subject that I think the word pride alone would not begin to describe. I am extremely honored to address The Empire Club of Canada and The Royal Commonwealth Society here today on a subject that is very near and dear to all of our hearts, the subject of citizenship.

I think it's based on the word responsibility; I think it's based also on the word respect. And when you look at these words, they apply to this great nation to which I have the honour to belong as a citizen, the nation of Canada.

If I may I will begin by telling you a little story. I remember, at a very young age, reading about Canada And especially about the great police force, The Northwest Mounted Police and then the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. And I remember, because of the traditions of my own family, having been involved very strongly in policing throughout our own lives including my father.

I was determined at that very young age to, one day, come to this great country and become a member of the police force.

I served with the Bermuda police force and the very fine officers of the Metropolitan Toronto Police force and I am extremely proud and honoured to serve you as Chief. And, you will have to forgive me, I did apply to the RCMP That was while I was serving in Bermuda.

But my path was not to go that way. My path changed because I met and married a Canadian from Toronto. She always accuses me of using her as a stepping-stone to Canada, not true.

When I finished my contract in Bermuda and came here and was accepted as a citizen of this great country, I joined the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force. In those days, the RCMP did not accept married people.

From that day on, I have seen what I believe to be, without a doubt, the greatest country in the world--in its acceptance of those people from the many shores of the world, in its acceptance of the many areas of culture.

Hence we have a country made up of many immigrants from many areas of the world. The native peoples of Canada are the only true Canadians; we all know that. But when you examine the word true Canadians, when you look at the contributions from all those nations, the opportunity that has existed, the development that has taken place, that has eventually resulted in this great nation, then you say to yourself where else could you see this type of tranquillity, this type of a nation built on the foundation of the greatness of its immigrants.

I am extremely proud to have been one of those immigrants. Not only am I proud to have been one of those immigrants, I am also very happy to be able to say to you that my five children are Canadians, my wife is Canadian and that I look forward to the future of Canada--to the future of the tranquillity of the nation, to the future of that symbol of peace--peacekeeping throughout the world.

I would be remiss if I did not mention also the pride I feel in the traditions of the Crown, in traditions of the Military that is so very well represented here today. In the memory of two World Wars and the Korean War. The people of Canada are involved to a degree above and beyond the call of duty and are immortalized in the cause of freedom of the world, part of what we take for granted.

Let me remind you that if it were not for the citizens of this great country, freedom itself would have been severely threatened. In terms of the service we receive from coast to coast from our police forces to maintain our freedom, to maintain our justice, to maintain our right, that is something else that stands out worldwide. That stands out in terms of fairness, in terms of justice.

I bring these things to your attention because they are the things I feel when I stand before you. I have not prepared a speech today; what I am saying to you comes from me. Comes from the feelings of having had the opportunity to choose Canada as my beloved country of choice. To choose this great nation to become a policeman, to have the admiration for its great people, and also to continue to serve.

And lastly if I may just for a moment look at my own police force, look at the representatives here today, the senior officers, command officers of our force. The men and women of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force that serve you on a daily basis. The civilian members of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force, some 2,000 who are the backbone of support.

We in this great community of Metropolitan Toronto are successful because of their unity, because of their loyalty, because of their devotion to their duties and the manner in which they are drawn from this great community.

Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you extremely proud to be a Canadian on this 125th birthday of Canada. I sincerely hope that all of the effort that we can put together, to support this great nation, will be there for the future. And I sincerely hope that whatever small contribution I have made can be put alongside that great contribution made by all of those great people that made our history.

The work will go on, the cause will endure.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Robert L. Brooks, President, The Empire Club of Canada.

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Canada, My Beloved Country of Choice

A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Royal Commonwealth Society.
Citizenship and responsibility. Personal reminiscences. The Metropolitan Police Force. What it means to be a Canadian.