TORONTO, Canada – Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Ronald Robinson has given the assurance that Jamaica intends to maintain and strengthen friendly, collaborative ties with Canada.
“We are pleased that Canada continues to support Jamaica’s development and we look forward to exploring all options for collaboration in reaching our development objectives,” Minister Robinson said.
He was speaking recently at a function held in Ottawa, Canada, to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Jamaica and Canada. The event was hosted by the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons Peter Milliken, the Jamaican High Commission and the Canada-Caribbean Parliamentary Friendship Group.
Canada established a High Commission in Kingston just one month after Jamaica’s independence in 1962, and Jamaica opened its diplomatic office in the Canadian capital shortly after.
Noting that Canada was an important international ally, Minister Robinson said Canada is also “a trusted friend on whose rapid, effective assistance we can always rely in the wake of natural disasters, such as Jamaica experienced with hurricane Dean in August.”
Canada committed $2 million to hurricane recovery and also sent a Canadian air force jet with 32 tonnes of relief supplies after Hurricane Dean did serious damage to parts of Jamaica in August.
Meanwhile Jamaica is looking for more opportunities for collaboration between the two countries in the areas of trade, investment and jobs. Minister Robinson said Jamaica intends to expand opportunities for Canadian investment in, and trade with, Jamaica, and provide more Jamaican workers for Canada.
“We are increasing Jamaica’s participation in the Canadian labour market, thereby contributing to growth here, not only in the agricultural sector where seasonal workers have been employed since 1966, but also in the construction, hospitality and other sectors where we have an excess of trained young people.”
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Evadne Coye said Minister Robertson’s visit to Canada was an indication of the importance the new administration placed on bilateral relations.
Speaker of the Canadian Parliament, Peter Milliken noted that the Jamaica-Canadian connection was established long before the 18th century and thanked the thousands of Jamaicans who took their music, food and culture to Canada and shared them with Canadians.
The Speaker said he will always cherish his visit to Jamaica made in 2005 when he led a Parliamentary delegation to the island. Minister Robinson assured him that there are plans for Speaker of the Jamaican House of Representatives, Delroy Chuck to lead a Parliamentary delegation to Canada.
Canada’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Helena Guergis, reiterated Canada’s commitment to playing a greater role in the Americas, noting the increase in development programmes by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the increase in scholarships for Caribbean students and the hosting of the Canada-CARICOM Summit in Canada in 2008.
Member of the Canada Caribbean Parliamentary Friendship Group, Member of Parliament Raymonde Folco, stated that Canada has benefited from “the skills and talents of students, nurses, doctors, domestic workers, teachers and many other professionals who have and continue to serve Canada in various sectors, including politics.”
She made mention service to Canada by Jamaicans such as Glenda Simms, Alvin Curling, Gill Scott and the late Rosemary Brown.
The Jamaica-Canada event was also attended by Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Anne-Marie Bonner; Jamaica’s Honorary Consul in Montreal Noel-Patric Brady; Jamaica Tourist Board Manager Sandra Scott; President of the Jamaica (Ottawa) Community Association Chris Harris; President of the Jamaican Diaspora-Canada Foundation Philip Mascoll; President of the National Council of Jamaicans and Supportive Organizations in Canada Noel Alexander; other parliamentarians and other Jamaican leaders.