|To begin this last half of 2023, I hope you enjoyed a great July 1st weekend – first of all, celebrating “Canada Day” and then the “Pride in London” march. Trafalgar Square was a very busy place!
We hosted our Canada Day events last Thursday with a Canadian Food and Music Festival all day on the Square, a Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, and an official reception for the diplomatic corps, our British colleagues and counterparts, and our business and professional clients, including Parliamentary representatives from all sides, UK Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, and special appearances by former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark, our Defence Minister Anita Anand and UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
It was great to see a bold, day-long display of Canadian talent, diversity and strength, right in the heart of London – amidst all the red-and-white, people queued up for Indigenous cooking or some genuine poutine, while listening to a Gordon Lightfoot soundtrack, and much more! It was a pleasure to share our national day with a large collection of British friends and others. I want to thank all those who took part and all the generous organizers, volunteers, performers, exhibitors and sponsors who brought it all to life.
Then we turned Trafalgar Square over to Pride in London. We worked together to optimize the use of the space. In Canada, 2SLGBTQI+ rights are human rights, protected by our Constitution to ensure you can love whomever you love, and truly be yourself, free from judgment, persecution or fear. At a time when some parts of the world are backsliding on such fundamental principles, Canada will stand firm.
Our global leadership in other areas has also been in the news lately – in some unlikely places – including Bloomberg, The Telegraph and the Washington Post. All three have recently noted Canada’s “booming” post-COVID success at embracing immigration, growing our population, reducing unemployment and diversifying our economy. We are projected to top all G7 countries in economic growth by 2025.
In tackling the future, one issue that will dominate the days, weeks and months ahead is the war in Ukraine. And let’s be clear, this is entirely Putin’s war. He and he alone is responsible for the death and destruction in Ukraine, as well as the weaponization of both food and energy supplies around the world. Putin’s war is also entirely illegal. He has already been indicted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court. And his mutinous former friend, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has categorically demolished Putin’s bogus rational for launching his malicious invasion in the first place.
Canada and the United Kingdom have stood shoulder-to-shoulder from the very beginning in supporting the valiant people of Ukraine in the fight for their sovereignty and security. Ministers Anand and Wallace made clear this past week that we will both continue to do so, together with the western alliance of freedom and peace-loving nations, which has never been more united or determined than it is today.
One area where Canada must continue to improve going forward is our work on healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. This too is a matter of human rights and dignity. While progress has been made, much more remains to be done – to grapple with hard truths from the past and build a future that is mutually inclusive and respectful, strengthening nation-to-nation, government- to-government and Inuit-Crown relationships, accelerating decolonization, and creating more prosperous Indigenous communities.
HM King Charles is a devoted participant in this effort. This Canada Day was his first as Monarch, shouldering a mantle with Indigenous people that reaches back to his great-great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria (in whose name the Indigenous treaties in Canada were written). HM has already studied the history. He has made numerous visits to Indigenous communities. He has listened carefully to chiefs, leaders and elders. Just before his Coronation, he met personally and privately with all of Canada’s elected Indigenous leadership.
Together with the first-ever Indigenous Vice-Regal representative in Canada, Governor General Mary Simon, King Charles may well be able to influence the course of history on Indigenous healing and reconciliation in a positive direction.
Our work continues on all these fronts. The High Commission in London will continue to play its part. By the way, I always enjoy hearing from Canadians in the United Kingdom whenever you have questions, comments or advice –please feel free to be in touch.
And have a good summer!
High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom