State Banquet Hosted by His Excellency George Maxwell Richards, President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuesday, May 1, 2012
My wife, Sharon, and I thank you for warmly welcoming us to your beautiful country. We are delighted to be here in Trinidad and Tobago.
I am particularly pleased to be able to personally express my congratulations on the upcoming 50th anniversary of your independence. This is a wonderful milestone, and I wish you the very best on behalf of all Canadians.
Our two countries are also proud to be commemorating a half-century of diplomatic relations this year. This occasion provides us with an opportunity to celebrate our friendship, while looking ahead at ways to further develop and strengthen our ties.
Today, some 100 000 people whose origins lie in Trinidad and Tobago call Canada home, and an estimated 6 000 Canadians live here. I want to emphasize the important contribution this country’s diaspora makes to Canada’s well-being. Our diversity is our greatest strength, and Canada is a better country for the presence of people from Trinidad and Tobago.
The same can be said of Canadians living here, who are actively contributing to the social, economic and cultural life of Trinidad and Tobago.
The vitality of our respective expatriate communities speaks well of our ability to live and to work together.
Our relationship is dynamic and multi-faceted, encompassing sectors as varied as trade, education, science and technology, security, governance, culture, environment, sport and health.
We also co-operate within the Commonwealth, the United Nations and the Organization of American States with the aim of building a smarter, more caring world. We are both globally minded nations with important roles to play in the Americas and around the world.
Indeed, the links between Trinidad and Tobago and Canada add up to a wonderful example of international engagement. Allow me to focus for a moment on several aspects of our relationship that have been particularly fruitful—and that have the potential for even greater partnership in future.
One important area of co-operation between us occurs in the sphere of learning. For decades, the people of our two countries have engaged in educational partnerships at many levels. Canada has been pleased to welcome so many students from Trinidad and Tobago, and today there is the potential for even greater co-operation.
Our two countries also enjoy a growing partnership in other areas. One example of our co-operation comes in the sphere of security. In policing, in judicial matters and in corrections, we are working together to improve security on several fronts, and we do so because we know that for prosperity to occur, there must be a safe and secure environment.
Canadians are also proud of the business and industry links we share with Trinidad and Tobago. Yours is the largest, most diversified and industrialized economy in the Caribbean, and I look forward to learning more about our expanding collaboration during this visit.
Lastly, I want to highlight the contribution of Canadians to 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.
In these and other areas, we are making strides together.
President, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of your independence and our diplomatic relations this year, let us raise our glasses to friendship and renew our commitment to working together in common cause.