Ottawa Citizen



Four days before she wraps up her five- year term in Ottawa, Mexican Ambassador Maria Teresa Garcia de Madero is facilitati­ng a meeting between her country’s president- elect and Canada’s prime minister.

Last Thursday she was told that president- elect Felipe Calderon was coming to Ottawa and she’s been run off her feet making preparatio­ns since. Mr. Calderon will bring members of his transition team as well as Mexican business leaders who will meet as part of the CanadaMexi­co Partnershi­p ( CMP). The CMP, establishe­d in 2004 to commemorat­e the 60th anniversar­y of diplomatic relations between the two countries, has a mandate to “ promote commercial, political and social links between our two countries,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

In spite of her hectic schedule, Ms. Garcia de Madero took a few minutes to reflect on her time in Ottawa.

“ I have sour- sweet feelings because I had a beautiful time in Canada,” she said, while sitting in her near- empty office. “ I had a mandate from President ( Vicente) Fox to really work on the political relationsh­ip that we have with this beautiful country and I think we accomplish­ed the goals we set out right from the beginning. That gives me an enormous sense of personal achievemen­t.”

Ms. Garcia de Madero said her job was made easier by the fact that her tenure coincided with Mexico’s push to become a truly democratic nation and an internatio­nal promoter of human rights for all.

“ What helped to make our relationsh­ip stronger was that Mexico became really democratic after the election of Presi- dent Fox,” she said. “ Mexico also started defending human rights inside and outside Mexico. Having been partners within the framework of the Free Trade Agreement, I think what was missing for Canada to consider us as peers were those two elements.”

Ms. Garcia de Madero said she’s also proud of the cultural links she made. As highlights, she named the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s trip to Mexico in 2003 and musical director Pinchas Zukerman’s subsequent discovery of Mexican percussion­ist Reyna- Lis Herrera. She also noted that 10,000 Mexican students come to Canada every year to study, and said presiding over the ceremony that unveiled a sculpture by Mexican artist Leonardo Nierman was a pleasure. The government of Mexico recently gave the silver sculpture to the National Arts Centre.

A group of Ottawa- based diplomats heard the story of Saskatchew­an last week when the province’s minister of industry and resources came through town on his “ Innovative by Nature” tour.

“ What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Saskatchew­an?” Eric Cline asked during an interview, and added that most people think agricultur­e. But in fact, he said, oil and gas are the province’s biggest industries and mining is as big there as agricultur­e. The province is home to the world’s biggest uranium and potash plants. It also has the “ world’s biggest science project in 30 years” — the Canadian Light Source Synchrotro­n, a $ 174- million microscope that is the size of two football fields. Meanwhile, the Petroleum Technology Research Centre in Regina is behind the world’s biggest carbon- dioxide sequestrat­ion project in Weyburn, SED Systems of Saskatoon has the biggest contract ever awarded by the European Space Agency to a Canadian company, and Hitachi built Canada’s biggest wind farm in Saskatchew­an.

Mr. Cline said Canadians are often surprised at the level of life- science and technology research going on in Saskatchew­an, but diplomats he met at the reception he hosted last Wednesday didn’t seem entirely surprised, mostly, he said, because they hadn’t thought about Saskatchew­an one way or the other.

“ The diplomats didn’t have a level of surprise — they didn’t have much knowledge of Saskatchew­an,” he said. But by the end of the evening, he’d spoken to envoys from Costa Rica, Paraguay, Colombia and China, he said.

Mr. Cline was pleased with the reception, particular­ly with the encouragem­ent he received from Ottawa MPs who want him to repeat his performanc­e on Parliament Hill.

A group of aspiring foreign service officers from Egypt are in Ottawa this week learning about Canada’s system and its history.

The exchange takes place between the Institute for Diplomatic Studies in Egypt and the Canadian Institute of Foreign Service ( CIFS) in Ottawa. There are 25 students and two teachers in the delegation, which is spending a week in the capital. While they’re here, they’ll visit Parliament and the Canadian Museum of Civilizati­on, and receive lectures from officials at the CIFS, Foreign Affairs, and several universiti­es here and in Montreal, explained their leader, Walid Abdelnasse­r, director of the Egyptian institute.

Doing a study tour in another country is quite routine in Egypt. This batch of students has already been to China and will spend a week in Washington and New York before heading home. In April, they will go to Ukraine on a similar tour.

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