Canada and the Caribbean, nat­u­ral part­ners more than ever

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - François-Philippe Cham­pagne GUEST COLUM­NIST Ka­rina Gould GUEST COLUM­NIST François-Philippe Cham­pagne is Canada’s min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs, and Ka­rina Gould is Canada’s min­is­ter of in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment. Feed­back: columns@ glean­erjm.com

AF­TER DECADES of steady global growth and pros­per­ity, the re­cent months have con­fronted us with the chal­lenge of a gen­er­a­tion. Today, na­tions around the world are reck­on­ing with a pan­demic the con­tours of which we are just be­gin­ning to grasp.

But while the ef­fects of COVID19 have tested our col­lec­tive sense of se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity, they have also un­der­scored the need for in­ter­na­tional sol­i­dar­ity.

liMko­ertheVe­sael,uiteis­terasiypt.oqtx­u­drn in­wards – to be­lieve that con­tin­ued lock­down and self-in­ter­ested poli­cies are in­evitable con­se­quences of a global cri­sis. But what has be­come clear is that, in fact, the op­po­site is true. Over­com­ing this virus will mean strength­en­ing the ties that bind us – recom­mit­ting our­selves to the rules­based in­ter­na­tional or­der that has seen us through crises be­fore, and which will al­low us to pre­vail again.

That is why later this month, Canada is run­ning for a seat on the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. Through our prin­ci­pled ap­proach and ideas, we know that Canada can make a dif­fer­ence and ad­vance the work of an in­sti­tu­tion that finds re­newed rel­e­vance in today’s un­cer­tain world.

Core to our plat­form is the con­cept of in­clu­sive eco­nomic se­cu­rity, grounded in the knowl­edge that there can­not be sus­tain­able peace and se­cu­rity un­til we achieve a pros­per­ity whose ben­e­fits are felt by all. As our world rebuilds in the months and years to come, we will doubt­less see fi­nan­cial con­straints tight­ened, food se­cu­rity im­per­illed, and sup­ply chains dis­rupted. Fail­ing to at­tend to these is­sues will only de­lay re­cov­ery and risk los­ing a gen­er­a­tion to eco­nomic des­per­a­tion.

That is pre­cisely why Prime Min­is­ters Trudeau and Hol­ness, to­gether with UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral

G1u0t:e0r­r0esA, rMe­ceP­natl­gye­co1n­vened a high-level in­ter­na­tional meet­ing of more than 50 world lead­ers to ad­dress the eco­nomic dev­as­ta­tion caused by COVID-19 and ad­vanced con­crete so­lu­tions to counter its ef­fects on the most vul­ner­a­ble, in­clud­ing small is­land de­vel­op­ing states.

IM­POR­TANT OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES

Canada and Caribbean na­tions have long been nat­u­ral part­ners. Our ge­o­graphic prox­im­ity, along with our con­nec­tions to the Com­mon­wealth and Fran­co­phonie pro­vide us im­por­tant op­por­tu­ni­ties for part­ner­ship. And our shared com­mit­ments to democ­racy, the rule of law, and hu­man rights un­der­score and en­rich our friend­ship.

Our peo­ple-to-peo­ple ties bind us to­gether. Al­most one mil­lion peo­ple of Caribbean de­scent call Canada home, and more than two mil­lion Cana­di­ans travel to the Caribbean an­nu­ally. It is our peo­ple that are the heart of this re­la­tion­ship – be they the di­as­pora, stu­dents, work­ers or vis­i­tors.

Canada knows well the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of Caribbean states. And this is why we have al­ways been res­o­lute in our sup­port, whether in the af­ter­math of the 2017 and 2019 hur­ri­canes or today in the con­text of the COVID-19 pan­demic. In cri­sis, Canada has al­ways stood by its Caribbean part­ners.

For ex­am­ple, Canada is sup­port­ing the Pan Amer­i­can Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (PAHO) to work with re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tions to as­sess needs, pro­cure sup­plies and get them de­liv­ered as soon as pos­si­ble. We are col­lab­o­rat­ing with part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions in the re­gion to fill im­me­di­ate gaps, while pro­vid­ing train­ing on best prac­tices through our work with PAHO, the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme, and UN Women. Canada is also sup­port­ing the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency to pur­chase and de­liver di­ag­nos­tic equip­ment and test kits to An­tigua and Bar­buda, St Lu­cia, St Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

But as we work to­gether to ad­dress the chal­lenges posed by COVID-19, we can­not lose sight of the fact that cli­mate change re­mains a real, and ur­gent, threat. Canada be­lieves that global so­lu­tions to cli­mate change are nec­es­sary, while at the same time recog­nis­ing that lo­cal per­spec­tives are cru­cial. These voices are too sel­dom re­flected in in­ter­na­tional and mul­ti­lat­eral dis­cus­sions, and Canada will seek to bring them to the fore, know­ing that last­ing so­lu­tions to is­sues of cli­mate must bring into the con­ver­sa­tion those who are most af­fected. We re­main com­mit­ted to bol­ster­ing the cli­mate and eco­nomic re­silience of Caribbean coun­tries

More than half a cen­tury ago, in the wake of the Sec­ond World War, the world was faced with a re­build­ing project of un­prece­dented pro­por­tion. So much hung in the bal­ance, and the fu­ture re­mained neb­u­lous and un­cer­tain.

Faced with this mon­u­men­tal task, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity chose to turn out­wards, build­ing in­sti­tu­tions like the United Na­tions and the Bret­ton Woods sys­tem. Their ar­chi­tec­ture con­tin­ues to un­der­pin today’s in­ter­na­tional or­der. The framers of these sys­tems, among them many Cana­di­ans, knew that we go far­ther when we go to­gether. They chose open­ness over iso­la­tion­ism, co­op­er­a­tion over ri­valry, and di­a­logue over con­fronta­tion.

Today, we must make that choice again. And as the world rebuilds anew, the Caribbean re­gion will have no closer ally than Canada.

AP

In this June 2018 file photo, Canada’s Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau (right) shakes hands with Ja­maica’s Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness as he wel­comes rep­re­sen­ta­tives from outreach coun­tries and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions dur­ing the G-7 sum­mit in La Mal­baie, Que­bec.

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