Canada Congratulates New Head of Caribbean Community

(No. 214 – July 26, 2011 – 3:15 p.m. ET) The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), today issued the following statement regarding the election of Irwin LaRocque as secretary-general of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM):

"I would like to congratulate Irwin LaRocque on being elected secretary-general of CARICOM," said Minister of State Ablonczy. "I look forward to the opportunity to work with him in a spirit of partnership and cooperation. This is a significant step forward for CARICOM as it moves toward greater regional integration.

"Mr. LaRocque’s experience as assistant secretary-general for trade and economic integration at the CARICOM Secretariat, and his previous years in the service of Dominica’s government, will no doubt serve him well in his new role.

"Canada continues to negotiate a mutually beneficial free trade agreement with the nations of CARICOM, with which we enjoy a close and long-standing relationship based on extensive people-to-people ties, significant trade and investment, educational and scholarship links, and common values. More than 400,000 Canadians are of Caribbean origin.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Lolita Applewhaite for her service as acting secretary-general of CARICOM since Sir Edwin Carrington stepped down last December. Her leadership and guidance during the interim period have been invaluable.

"I welcome the shared and continuing commitment of CARICOM members to helping build a more prosperous, secure and democratic western hemisphere."

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