Peres has full slate on Canadian visit

Israeli president Shimon Peres inspects a Canadian honour guard shortly after his arrival in Ottawa on Monday.

Israeli President Shimon Peres’ four-day state visit to Canada began with kind words for the host nation.

In a formal ceremony at Rideau Hall on Monday hosted by Gov.-Gen. David Johnston, Peres thanked Canada on behalf of Israelis.

“I am very, very grateful for your kind invitation to visit your wonderful country,” Peres told the Canadian Press. “I have the deepest gratitude, and I bring that gratitude from Jerusalem to Ottawa for the deep friendship that has existed between our peoples from our first day of independence.”

This is Peres’ first trip to Canada in his capacity as president.

After the formal ceremony, Peres and Johnston held a private meeting focusing on fostering increased collaboration between the two countries in the fields of education and innovation.

The 88-year-old president had a full slate this week.

He was meeting Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday morning as The CJN went to press.

Peres was also scheduled to meet with Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair and interim Liberal party leader Bob Rae while in Ottawa.

On Tuesday, Peres was slated to sign a memorandum of understanding between the Royal Society of Canada and the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities before moving on to a tree-planting at Rideau Hall, the governor general’s residence, to commemorate his visit.

On Monday night, Johnston hosted a state dinner in Peres’ honour that was attended by Harper and various other dignitaries.

He was also feted by the Jewish community of Canada at a dinner on Tuesday in Ottawa hosted by the Israeli Embassy.

UJA Federation of Greater Toronto hosted Peres at a dinner on Wednesday, and another reception by the Jewish community in Montreal was scheduled for Thursday night at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.

In addition, Peres was scheduled to meet with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty on Wednesday to discuss Israeli-Canadian collaboration in the field of brain research.

On Thursday, he was to meet with Quebec Premier Jean Charest before departing for Israel.