Canada is shouldering ever greater responsibility at international level. During the visit by Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth to Ottawa and Toronto, the readiness to engage in even closer cooperation with Europe was very much in evidence. The talks with Foreign Affairs Minister Dion, Immigration Minister McCallum, members of parliament and representatives of civil society focused on developments surrounding CETA, the European-Canadian trade agreement. However, migration and refugee policy, the role of the EU and the question as to how integration can be successful also played an important role.
CETA: actively shaping globalisation
During his first trip to Canada, Minister of State Roth met Canada’s Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, a committed champion of close Canadian-European cooperation. Dion said that he hoped CETA would be a success. Roth underscored the significance of the trade agreement: “Our common task is to actively shape globalisation and not to simply let it happen. CETA can serve as a model for future agreements when it comes to consumer protection, transparency and mutual respect”, stated Roth, who thanked the Canadian Government for its confidence and constructive willingness to reach compromises. Beyond the trade agreement, Dion suggested greater cooperation on international peace operations.
Seeing integration as an opportunity and a boon
Immigration Minister John McCallum pointed out his country’s long experience as a country of immigration. He said that the Government had not only taken in Syrians but had now decided to host Yazidis from northern Iraq. Ensuring that newcomers learn the language quickly and enter the education system was crucial. The efforts of Canadian civil society were huge. The lion’s share of the costs were borne by private and church initiatives and not by the state. Minister of State for Europe Roth stated that this integration strategy showed the way forward: “We can learn from Canada how to adopt a new approach to immigration: integration here is seen first and foremost as a great opportunity, as a cultural and economic boon and not as a burden or threat.” McCallum went on to say that international efforts should focus on improving conditions in countries of origin and in those countries hosting an especially large number of refugees, especially Jordan and Lebanon but also Turkey and Greece.
An EU capable of taking action is especially important in times of crisis
In his speeches at Carleton University and at Monk School, Minister of State for Europe Roth called for understanding for the sometimes lengthy and draining coordination processes within the EU. “Despite all the difficulties, the EU is and remains our life insurance in times marked by crisis and globalisation. However, in order to counter rising nationalism and populism, we will also have to show that we remain capable of taking action and can improve things.”
Considerable interest and a desire for close cooperation were also apparent in further talks with members of parliament, journalists, representatives of civil society and LGBTI representatives.