Ambassador Irwin LaRocque,
The CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM)
on THE occasion of
THE PRESENTATION OF CREDENTIALS BY
HIS EXCELLENCY MARK BERMAN,
PLENPOTENTIARY REPRESENTIVE OF CANADA
TO THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY
Wednesday, 17 February 2021
- Your Excellency Mark Berman, Plenipotentiary Representative of Canada to CARICOM;
- Ms. Jessica Teasdale, First Secretary (Development), Canadian High Commission;
- Ms. Janine Cocker, Counsellor (Development), Canadian High Commission;
- Ambassador Colin Granderson, Assistant Secretary-General, Foreign and Community Relations, and other Members of Staff of the CARICOM Secretariat.
It gives me great pleasure to meet with you virtually this morning on the occasion of your accreditation as the Plenipotentiary Representative of Canada to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Ambassador, today’s ceremony reflects the strong and enduring bonds of friendship between CARICOM and Canada.
The Member States of CARICOM highly value the close and special relationship that has been forged with Canada over the years. Many of our nationals have found a home in Canada and are making valuable contributions to their adopted country. This serves to solidify even further the links between us.
Ambassador, CARICOM is very appreciative of the efforts made by the administration of Prime Minister, the Honourable Justin Trudeau to revive Canada’s relations with CARICOM. The convening of high-level and ministerial engagements in recent years between CARICOM and Canada, and the launching of the CARICOM-Canada Dialogue last year are testimony to your country’s steadfast commitment to further advance its engagement and cooperation with CARICOM.
Moreover, the upcoming Inaugural Meeting of the CARICOM-Canada Foreign Ministers’ Group is another gesture of Canada’s renewed interest in deepening its ties with the Community. It is my hope that this leads to a revival of the regular meetings between our Heads of Government.
Excellency, as you are aware, development assistance and technical cooperation feature as important aspects of our relationship. The Community has benefited tremendously, particularly through projects aimed at advancing economic integration and at strengthening the capacity of key Regional Institutions.
Canada has been supportive of the Community’s reform process, including the restructuring of the CARICOM Secretariat and the review of its Institutions. I must express my deep gratitude to your country for its provision of financial resources to fund the review of the Regional Institutions. I must also thank Canada for their financial support of the CARICOM Observer Team for the recount of the Guyana general elections last year.
Canada has also been an important partner in advancing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the key factor in our efforts at resilience, and sustainable growth and development. CARICOM private sector development, good governance and security are also areas in which we have been cooperating.
Your country’s support to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is particularly significant. The Agency is in the front line of preparation for and response to disasters, which have become more intense due to the effects of climate change, an existential threat to the Region.
Excellency, I have noted from your Curriculum Vitae, your vast experience in addressing that phenomenon. As you are aware, CARICOM Member States are among the smallest emitters but amongst the most adversely affected by climate change.
This has manifested itself, for example, through intensified and more frequent climatic events in our Region, such as hurricanes, droughts and unusual patterns of extremely heavy rainfall. The devastating experiences of some of our Member States during the 2017 hurricane season have provided more than sufficient evidence of this reality.
The Community is grateful to Canada for its ready and generous assistance to the affected states in the aftermath of those storms.
CARICOM also looks forward to Canada’s continued support, through advocating for the concerns of Small Island and Low-Lying Coastal Developing States (SIDS), such as our Member States in international fora. The upcoming 2021 UN Conference of the Parties (COP 26) in the United Kingdom at the end of this year presents another opportunity in this regard.
As the world continues to grapple with the challenges from the coronavirus, collaboration among nations plays a significant role in combatting the pandemic. In this connection, I commend and thank Canada for its assistance to the Region, through resources provided to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
A major weapon in the battle against the virus is access to vaccines, since as we are all aware, no one is safe until everyone is safe.
For us, the most tourism and travel dependent Region in the world, the issue of access to vaccines is a crucial element in rebuilding our devastated economies.
It is why we are deeply concerned at the inequitable access and distribution of the available vaccines. Global statistics indicate that some developed countries have contracted enough doses to vaccinate their populations many times over, while some developing countries such as those in the Caribbean Community are vastly underserved.
CARICOM Member States have signed on to the COVAX Facility which is designed to provide equitable access and distribution. As helpful as that facility undoubtedly is, we will need to expand vaccination coverage for our populations beyond it.
It is why CARICOM is calling for a global Summit to address equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, over and beyond what is available from the COVAX Facility. This should be conducted in the context of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ACT-A Facilitation Council.
CARICOM stands ready to collaborate with International Partners like Canada to advocate for this meaningful dialogue in the interest of a humanitarian resolution.
Excellency, your accreditation to the Caribbean Community is one that is greatly welcomed. I have no doubt that you will facilitate the enhancement of the deep, strong and friendly relationship which exists between CARICOM and Canada. My staff at the Secretariat, and I, stand ready to work with you in this regard. We welcome you and wish you all success in your tenure.
I Thank you.