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Celebrating Chilean Independence

Notes for a speech by the Hon. David Kilgour,
Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa), M.P. Edmonton Southeast
at the celebration of the Independence Day of Chile, September 18, 1999,
Delta Edmonton South, Edmonton.

It is an honour to be here with you tonight, and to bring greetings from our national government.

As the largest Latin American community in Edmonton, the Chilean community is a thriving and vibrant part of our city.

Tonight, as you gather to celebrate Chile’s Independence Day there is much to celebrate.

Since Chile’s return to democracy in 1990 Canada’s relations with Chile have been growing steadily and I would say they are now excellent. Chile has made significant progress: a strong entrenchment of democracy, a dramatic improvement in human rights, and a solid economic performance.

Looking ahead, there is enormous potential for further cooperation in key sectors such as; defence relations, peacekeeping, education, parliamentary affairs, environment, culture and science and technology.

Chile is one of Canada’s key partners in Latin America, with Canada being the second largest investor in Chile. The Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, signed in 1996, has brought the two countries closer together. Two-way trade has increased dramatically, nearly doubling form $357 million in 1992, to a high of $717 million in 1997.

These ties are sure to become stronger as Canada embarks on a new level of engagement with the America’s. We recognize that our future is directly linked – geographically, politically and economically – to that of our hemispheric neighbours. In light of that, Canada is hosting a number of key hemispheric events in hopes of strengthening our relationship with the region.

At the end of this month the Spouses and Heads of State and Government of the Americas will meet in Ottawa for a conference hosted by Madame Chrétien. In early November the 5th Americas Business Forum and Free Trade Area of the America’s Meeting will be held in Toronto. Chile is a strong proponent of the FTAA. In March of 2000 the university of Alberta is hosting the Model General Assembly of the OAS, with the real General Assembly being held June 2000 in Windsor Ontario. All of these events will lead up to the third Summit of the Americas, to be held in Quebec City in 2001.

In a very real way, the next century will be that of the Americas. So tonight as we celebrate the Independence of Chile, let us also celebrate what lies ahead.

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