Prime Minister Harper recently visited four countries (Colombia, Chile, Barbados, and Haiti) throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, to establish new partnerships in the Americas and to enhance Canada’s relationships by meeting with foreign leaders and representatives from the private sector. Through this renewed engagement, Canada will successfully achieve significant progress on key issues of mutual importance such as security, democratic governance, and economic prosperity.
The first stop on Prime Minister Harper’s visit was Colombia, where he met with President Uribe. During their discussions, they addressed Colombia’s political and economic situation and the full range of Canada’s engagement in that country. The Prime Minister underlined Canada’s commitment to support Colombia’s efforts to achieve domestic peace and security, the protection of human rights, as well as Canada’s leadership role in the protection of children affected by violence and conflict.
The two leaders began free trade negotiations and agreed to negotiations on a double-taxation agreement, contributing to a stronger partnership between the two countries. The Prime Minister announced a new labour program for the Americas that will include support for Colombia. The program will encourage dialogue among government, business and labour, and address health and safety issues. While in Colombia, he also announced several initiatives aimed at strengthening Canada’s ties with the Americas and to support Colombia’s efforts in improving peace and stability, which included support for the country’s peace efforts, child protection, education and support of children affected by violence in Colombia and Haiti.
The next stop on the trip was Chile. During his visit, Prime Minister Harper met with Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, and shared Canada’s three objectives in the Americas which include: 1) strengthening and promoting Canada’s foundational values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law; 2) building strong sustainable economies through increased trade and investment linkages, as well as a mutual commitment to expanding opportunities to all citizens; 3) meeting new security challenges, as well as natural disasters and health pandemics. While in Santiago, the Prime Minister and President Bachelet signed the Canada-Chile Partnership Framework, which will deepen and expand relations between the two countries.
The third stop on the visit was Barbados, where he reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to strengthening the Canada-Barbados relationship. Prime Minister Harper met with Prime Minister Arthur and discussed the shared objectives of economic growth, security cooperation, regional cooperation in the Caribbean, as well as the main challenges facing small Caribbean states. He also assured Prime Minister Arthur of Canada’s intention to develop a new partnership with CARICOM members to provide support for economic renewal, security challenges, and democratic governance.
The last stop on the visit was to Haiti, where Prime Minister Harper reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to reviving and expanding Canada’s ties to Haiti and throughout the Americas. He placed special emphasis on greater stability in Haiti, which will enhance the security of the entire region and will serve to meet the goal of expanded and improved trade and employment opportunities for people throughout the country and the Americas. He also encouraged President Preval to continue efforts to restore the rule of law in Haiti, and to focus on building open, accountable government.
During his visit to Latin America and the Caribbean, Prime Minister Harper was successful in building new partnerships, while also enhancing long-standing relationships through enhanced engagement that will deliver real progress on issues of significant importance for both Canada and the Americas. This is one more way our Government is getting things done for Canadians and strengthening our role on the international stage.