Canada’s Voice Matters

Having just celebrated its 25th anniversary as a member state, Canada has been a key advocate for universal freedoms and human rights, as well as instrumental in solidifying democracy as a core value of the OAS and the hemisphere. The 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter, which is a true Constitution for the Americas, was born out of the 2001 Summit of the Americas hosted in Quebec City.

The message is clear, in a world increasingly resistant to “intrusion into domestic affairs”: Canada holds a distinct position that regional solidarity cannot come at the cost of human rights abuses, undermining democratic institutions and exclusionary policies.

Canada’s priorities – shared prosperity, multilateral co-operation, human rights, inclusiveness, clean energy and economic integration – are in line with those of the majority of the hemisphere. These shared values represent a common platform that makes us a unique community in the global arena.

Canada has also taken a courageous approach to the region. It has maintained a historically open relationship with Cuba, even when it was unpopular, and ultimately served as a bridge for the rapprochement between Cuba and the U.S. The recent move to lift the visa requirement for Mexican visitors is seen as a public declaration of a welcoming and open approach. The longstanding investment in rebuilding Haiti after two devastating natural disasters, not only by the Canadian government but through the vast support of individual Canadians, demonstrates a sincere commitment to people-to-people ties in the hemisphere.

Taken together, these actions send a powerful message. Canada is committed to the Americas. Canada is open to the world.

Luis Almagro
Secretary General of the Organization of American States