Minister of State Ablonczy Celebrates Canada’s Colourful Caribbean Culture
August 1, 2012 - The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), today addressed the Council of Caribbean Associations – Canada as part of the Minister of State’s second cross-Canada summer outreach tour on consular matters and the Americas.
“All Canadians should be very proud of the vibrant Caribbean community we have here in Canada,” said Minister of State Ablonczy. “From jazz pianist Oscar Peterson and heavyweight boxer Lennox Lewis to thinker Malcolm Gladwell and Olympic medallist Jennifer Abel, Canadians of Caribbean descent have enriched all aspects of our culture.”
During her address to the Council, Minister of State Ablonczy discussed Canada’s renewed engagement in the Caribbean and across the Americas. She also highlighted progress the Canadian government has made in strengthening economic and trade relations as well as people-to-people ties. For example:
- there have been well over 150 high-level governmental visits to Latin America and the Caribbean since 2007;
- Canada has concluded seven free trade agreements with countries of the Americas—that’s more than with the rest of the world;
- total trade between Canada and Latin America and the Caribbean has increased by over 40 percent since 2006;
- nearly four million Canadians travel to Latin America and the Caribbean annually, and growing numbers of Canadians live in the region as retirees; and
- nearly 30,000 Latin American and Caribbean students currently study in Canada.
The Minister of State emphasized the importance of the Caribbean diaspora—over half a million strong—and its participation in all aspects of Canadian society, as well as its contribution to Canada’s growth and prosperity. She also praised the bridge-building role of the Council members themselves.
“The work the Council of Caribbean Associations – Canada is doing is helping build important networks,” noted the Minister of State. “It is forging partnerships and it is helping increase success and prosperity for all.”
This year’s summer tour, which has also taken Minister of State Ablonczy to the West Coast, builds upon last year’s, the first-ever cross-Canada ministerial outreach tour on consular matters and the Americas.
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