Stephen Harper: Canada “Committed” to Deepening Ties With Caribbean

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Above, from left: Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Canada’s PM, Stephen Harper (Photo: OPM Canada)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Canada is “committed” to deepening its ties with Jamaica and the Caribbean region at large, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said this week during Jamaica PM Portia Simpson Miller’s official visit to the country.

Jamaica and Canada are marking 50 years of bilateral relations on the occasion of what is Simpson Miller’s first official visit to the country.

Harper unveiled two new initiatives aimed at strengthening bilateral ties: the first, the Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages, will involve work with the Caribbean Farmers Network to enable farmers to increase the quality and quantity of fresh, regionally grown fruits and vegetables, and help connect them with buyers like grocery chains, hotels and cruise ships.

The second is the Community Disaster Risk Reduction project, a Caribbean Development Bank-implemented initiative which will help 15 Caribbean communities manage and respond to natural disasters.

Simpson Miller’s ongoing six-day visit to the country came at the invitation of Harper.

“We have been able to count on the ready and valuable support of the Canadian government and people in the fields of education, health, local government, justice reform, disaster preparedness and relief and agriculture,” Simpson Miller said at a function at the Jamaican Canadian Centre in Toronto this week. “Our military cooperation stands as an outstanding example to many.”

Indeed, Jamaica and Canada signed a memorandum of understanding in June that would create a military hub for Canada at the Kingston Harbour, a nearby airport and a Jamaica Defence Force base in Kingston.

“In the future, strategic partners like Canada will continue to play a vital role in the growth and development of Jamaica through trade, capacity building and investment,” said Ontario Sen. Don Meredith, the first Jamaican-born Senator in Canada’s history.