CANADA – The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada explains how his country, as convener and trusted partner, has left its mark on the planet.
The 150th anniversary of the Confederation is an appropriate time to reflect on the long and proud history of Canada and to contemplate the enormous possibilities that exist here and abroad for this generation of Canadians and those who will inherit the country we are building.
It is also a time to reflect on the important bilateral relations that have characterised Canada’s commitment abroad.
The enduring Canadian cooperation in Colombia, dating back to 1953, is one of them.
We not only share a hemisphere but many values such as democracy, multilateral-ism, responsible and sustainable management of our natural resources and face climate change.
Our countries are committed to creating an equitable and just society while ensuring that the rights of our First Nations and our minorities are protected and opportunities for their social and economic development are promoted.
Canada benefits from working with trusted partners and accompanying its allies to defend freedom, democracy, human rights and the prevalence of the law.
That is why we have sought security, stability and prosperity through international organisations such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty, which also count Canada among its founders.
That is why, in the Americas, we are committed to working with entities such as the Organisation of American States, and we directly support its Mission of Support for the Peace Process in Colombia as well as other countries around the globe, which monitors security in areas where the FARC used to be.
Canada is honoured to work with Colombia at this crucial moment in its history, while implementing a trans-formative and comprehensive peace agreement that ends more than 50 years of internal armed conflict.
From supporting rural development and education in post-conflict areas to assisting human rights defenders, Canada, one of Colombia’s key development partners, contributes significantly with $76 million announced in 2016 and 2017 for high priority areas in the agreement and identified by Colombians.
We trust that through trade and defensive cooperation, investment in the private sector and in programs for the promotion of rural education, the empowerment of women and sustainable economic growth, direct support to strengthen mechanisms of transitional justice , human rights, police reform and victim assistance, Canada is making a difference in Colombia.
As conveners and trusted partners, we have left our stamp on the world.
This year marks it the 21st anniversary of the Ottawa Treaty, and Canada continues to work to eliminate anti-personnel mines and their devastating effects on civilian populations in countries such as Colombia, where we lead demising efforts. The support of Canada through The Halo Trust and OAS-AIMCA has positioned the country as a key player in the sector; a visible and timely contribution.
In the future, Canada will continue with a progressive agenda that promotes inclusion, respect for diversity, support for working families and empowers women and girls, a central piece in Canada’s feminist foreign policy by our assistance to Colombia.
Women’s participation and commitment is essential for the country’s sustainable development and Canada will continue to strive to support the economic, social and political empowerment of women through income-generating opportunities and promote their rights.
As a trading nation, we also seek to intensify Canadian trade in the world, including countries in Latin America that are in transformation, whose living standards are growing and their populations, full of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
The bilateral trade relationship with Colombia continues to strengthen, especially as a result of the Free Trade Agreement that came into effect in 2011 and helped eliminate tariffs in 92.6 percent of bilateral trade and will continue working to strengthen the relationship.
At home, Canadians represent a way of life that works, with an avid commitment to multiculturalism and diversity.
We welcome the contributions of immigrants and refugees that make up the growing social fabric of Canada, including Colombians and Colombian youth who come to study in our country. Our roots are indigenous, French-speaking and English-speaking, but our identity is defined by different cultures, languages, religions and other factors that make us different from the other, but unite us in our values and institutions. Canada’s progressive foreign policy must reflect an absolutely central national value: diversity is our strength.
Canada celebrates the diverse, compassionate and proud country it has become.
As parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, rest assured that Canada will do what it can to bring that spirit of openness, diversity and inclusion to the rest of the world and will be willing to maintain its strong ties and growing relationship with Colombia.