Official Luncheon Hosted by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Thank you for your warm welcome. My wife, Sharon, and I are so pleased to be here.
Let me begin by saying how delighted I am to personally express Canada’s ongoing commitment to its relationship with Trinidad and Tobago.
As you know, our two countries are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations this year—though of course we have been trading partners since the 1800s, when we exchanged Canadian salt cod for Trinidadian rum, sugar and molasses.
This occasion is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our historic ties and to look to the future together, and it coincides with the upcoming 50th anniversary of your independence. On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my sincere congratulations and best wishes on this occasion. Trinidad and Tobago is today an important Caribbean nation, and your contribution to the social, economic and cultural life of this region is truly impressive.
Your country is also a key partner for Canada, which is fortunate to be home to some 100 000 people whose origins are on these islands. I am also pleased to note that Trinidad and Tobago is home to a sizeable community of about 6 000 expatriate Canadians. Although I am told that both these numbers probably need to be revised upwards.
Together, we are building upon our years of friendship and co-operation, which I am looking forward to exploring in greater detail.
Increasingly, we are entering into exciting new partnerships together.
One such sphere is that of security co-operation. In policing, in judicial matters and in corrections, we are working together to improve security in Trinidad and Tobago in several important respects. I hope to learn more about our security collaboration during this visit.
I also want to highlight the work that we are doing together on corporate social responsibility initiatives in Trinidad and Tobago. The smarter, more caring world we aspire to build demands that development go hand-in-hand with socially and environmentally responsible practices. I am pleased to see our progress in this respect.
Tomorrow, I will be meeting with local businesspeople and community leaders from Canada and Trinidad and Tobago. I am fortunate to be travelling with an experienced delegation of Canadians who are eager to engage with the people of this country, and I look forward to these meetings.
We have also co-operated on the arts and culture front and I am pleased to say that we have a vibrant Carnival celebration in Toronto every year, largely due to our people-to-people relationships. The steel pan has found a second home in Canada.
And finally, having spent much of my life in post-secondary institutions prior to becoming governor general, I also hope to discuss the educational ties between our two countries. Like many Canadians and like the people of Trinidad and Tobago, I strongly believe in the power of learning to change our lives for the better. So many of you here have spent time in our universities and colleges, and we thank you for what you have brought to the table, and for your ideas, your innovation and your passion.
Through education, we can strengthen our ties and enhance our knowledge, by learning together across borders and across disciplines. I often call this the diplomacy of knowledge, and I am delighted to note the long history of collaboration in education between our peoples.
Today, we have the potential to extend our learning and engage in exciting new partnerships.
Our relationship is dynamic and multi-faceted. We are working together not only in our respective countries, but across the Caribbean and internationally.
In today’s world, success lies in our ability to engage one another and collaborate. I want to personally thank Prime Minister Perssad-Bissessar for her hospitality and I want to thank all of you for the hospitality you have shown to us and to all Canadians who come to Trinidad and Tobago to work, study and visit.
Let us seize this opportunity to explore our relationship more fully while seeking ways to work together for the benefit of all.