State Luncheon Hosted by His Excellency Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic of Colombia
Bogotá, Colombia, Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Sharon and I, along with the entire Canadian delegation, are delighted to be here on this State visit to Colombia.
I hope you will allow me to begin with a personal story, as your country is especially dear to my family.
It was here that my daughter Debbie adopted her two daughters, my granddaughters, Emma and Téa. These beautiful and smart girls have brought so much joy to our lives, and we could not imagine our family without them.
Debbie, Emma and Téa are here with us today. I am proud that they can see first-hand the country of their birth, and how much this place means to their mother and to their grandparents.
Ours is a very personal example of the many and historic people-to-people ties linking our two countries.
Canada and Colombia share many years of good relations and these have only grown broader and deeper since we took the wise decision to bring our economies closer together through our free trade agreement. This initiative has driven significant Canadian investment in Colombia to our mutual benefit.
Looking ahead, I would like to speak to you about the potential of what we can do together.
First and foremost, we stand with you in your attempts to negotiate a peaceful end to the conflict that has cost your country so much. You can count on Canada’s support should you wish it.
Some of the other areas in which we can expand cooperation include natural resource management, rural economic development, education, innovation, and science and technology. There are projects and joint initiatives in each of these areas that I look forward to seeing during my stay in Colombia.
Canadians have been working alongside Colombians for many years, investing in programs supporting children and youth, rural communities, agriculture, human rights, and education. And we have worked with you to strengthen peace-building initiatives, lending our talent and our expertise, and most importantly, sharing our knowledge with Colombians.
In such areas as innovation and science and technology, Canada has a wealth of expertise that can benefit Colombia. And Colombia itself is redoubling its own efforts in this field, becoming an attractive place in which to conduct research and discover ideas.
Finally, in Colombia as it is in Canada, the younger generations have a significant role to play in our future. International education opportunities can be important experiences for these young people as they prepare for life in a globalized marketplace.
Throughout my travel in Colombia, I hope to encourage young people here to come to Canada to study and to bring the message to Canadian youth that Colombia has much to offer in terms of learning opportunities.
Upon my return, and drawing from all that I will see in the coming days, I hope to encourage Canadian students to look further afield, and specifically to emerging markets like Colombia, for educational opportunities.
By the end of our visit, I am hopeful that Sharon, the delegation and I will have uncovered new ways in which we can enhance our co-operation.
I would now like to raise a glass to our continued friendship and to our expanding relationship.