Representing Canada at the Council of Europe (Part One)
October 23, 2021

Week of October 23 – October 27, 2021

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of once again, participating in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). I participated in the 2005 session last October and was chosen to rejoin the Canadian parliamentary delegation this year. The Canadian delegation was composed of representatives from both Chambers of our Parliament. This year the delegation first traveled to Berlin, Germany (as Germany will be the next country to hold the European Union Presidency) and then to Strasbourg, France. I would like to use the next two journals to share my experience with you and to highlight the many important economic and political issues that were raised in the many meetings I participated in and their importance to Canada.

While in Berlin, I had the opportunity to meet with the Canadian Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Paul Dubois and representatives from the Canadian Embassy. During my meetings with the representatives from the embassy, the delegation discussed Canada-Germany relations and issues of mutual importance to both countries. Germany is Canada’s sixth largest export market and trade between the two countries has grown considerably in the last fifteen years. Germany is also the seventh largest investor in Canada and in 2005, Canadian firms held $7.7 billion in direct investment in Germany.

In addition to trade investment, Canada and Germany have many educational partnerships and cultural exchanges. There are extensive Canadian Studies programs in German universities, as well as hundreds of exchange and work-study opportunities. There are many Canadian performing arts groups and orchestras that visit Germany each year and vice-versa. Germans have also come to embrace and consume Canadian books, music, art and other forms of cultural expression. These cultural ties were also discussed, as well as Germany’s most pressing issues, such as high unemployment and immigration challenges and Canada’s experiences with these challenges.
I later met with German parliamentarians and we discussed the key challenges Germany will face during its presidency of the European Union (EU). The Constitution of Europe will be an important issue for Germany to tackle, as it was rejected in referenda by French and Dutch voters. Moreover, energy security, the environment, security of EU citizens, and foreign policy will all be on the German agenda in 2007. Given Canada’s strong ties with Germany, the German presidency of the EU will offer Canada a unique opportunity to advance its common interests with the EU and therefore, influence the German agenda. There is great potential for ongoing cooperation between Germany and Canada on international security issues, specifically in the areas of counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, and pandemics that were all discussed in my meetings with the German parliamentarians.

During my time in Germany, I gained a better understanding of the many important economic, social, and political ties our two countries have and the unique perspective Canada can offer Germany, as it tackles its own national challenges and vice-versa. I also realized the great opportunity that exists for Canada to engage the EU on issues of critical and mutual importance to Canada in the coming years.

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