Canada’s Governor General David Johnston’s recent visit to Trinidad & Tobago has affirmed the close relationship between the two Commonwealth countries, says T&T High Commissioner, Philip Buxo.
The Governor General was in the twin-island republic to mark 50 years of bilateral relations between the two countries and T&T’s 50th independence anniversary this year. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the Americas and Consular Affairs, Diane Ablonczy and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deepak Obhrai, were part of the visiting Canadian delegation.
“The relationship between the two countries has always been healthy but the visit signified a renewed interest in trade and economic development,” Buxo said at a press conference at the T&T consulate last Friday. “We are on Canada’s radar.”
A technical framework agreement that would allow qualified Canadian companies to access commercial opportunities in the health sector and a Corrections Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate information and personnel exchanges were signed during the visit.
A full-time Trade Commissioner to Port-of-Spain was appointed in 1938 and Canada and T&T established diplomatic relations shortly after the twin-island republic achieved its independence on August 31, 1962. The first Canadian High Commissioner was accredited the following year.
The new Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) project will be headquartered in T&T. CARILED is a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-funded six-year $23.2-million project that will be implemented by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The project is expected to help up to 50 local governments and agencies implement or facilitate local economic development initiatives with up to 500 small- and medium-sized enterprises in six Caribbean countries.
Canada is actively engaged in the support of good governance in T&T and the islands’ citizens are active participants in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program. Faced with a shortage of skilled labour, Alberta is recruiting T&T energy sector workers and the twin-island republic has expressed an interest in developing relations with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, which is a leader in technical training and applied education.
The Association of Canadian Community Colleges has invited T&T’s Minister of Science, Technology & Tertiary Education, Fazal Karim, to visit Memorial University in Newfoundland to observe the facilities and meet with officials to discuss the possibility of creating a partnership between the Atlantic region’s academic institution and the University of Trinidad & Tobago.
Memorial University Marine Institute is considered the most comprehensive institution of its kind in North America with unique facilities, including a full ship’s bridge simulator and the world’s largest flume tank.
“By engaging in a partnership with the Maritime Institute, Trinidad & Tobago will benefit economically by training nationals to participate in the labour force in the maritime sector and, through their Bachelor and Master’s programs, the area of shore-based management,” said Buxo. “By providing high-quality training and education to nationals, Trinidad & Tobago’s educational institutions will become leaders in the Caribbean maritime sector.”
Buxo also announced that lawyer, Richard Yufe, has been appointed T&T’s honorary consul in Montreal and a similar appointment will soon be made in Alberta.
“Richard has hit the ground running,” said Buxo. “Having him there, where several major Canadian companies are headquartered, should give us some good results. It’s also strategic for us to have diplomatic representation in Alberta whose global crude oil reserves rank only behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.”
By RON FANFAIR