A regional think-tank executive believes Justin Trudeau’s new Liberal government creates “the prime opportunity” for the Caribbean to advance relations with Canada.
“This is a young man who has just come to power and I am sure that there will be a lot of scope for defining a foreign policy,” Executive Director of the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) Shantal Munro-Knight told Barbados TODAY.
“If the region can get there and be proactive and put forward a case and establish relations with this new government, I think that would be to our benefit and for us to be able to do it sooner than later,” she added.
On Monday, the Canadian electorate handed Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party and son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, an absolute majority in the first change of government in a decade. At the same time, they handed a stunning defeat to outgoing Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Munro-Knight said the win augurs well for the Caribbean, noting that the Liberals traditionally have been friendlier towards the region. She believed that under the incoming administration, a renewed interest in the Caribbean would be encouraged.
“What we saw with the previous government, is a government that completely moved away from any kind of true development ethos and really had taken a very, very hard line in their relationship in the region and hopefully this new government will take a different approach and we will see a return to the kind of relationships that we were accustomed to in the past,” Munro-Knight explained.
The trade specialist said she was particularly looking forward to movement on a proposed Canada-CARICOM trade agreement that has been on the negotiating table for some time.
“There has been little movement, the process has been extremely slow and it is hoped that again that with the Liberal government . . . we will see . . . a more facilitatory position that will allow the process to move forward.”
“We will also want to ensure that we have this Liberal government now as an ally on several fronts, the whole prospective, not only from trade et cetera but a number of other development issues,” Munro-Knight said, pointing to areas such as climate change and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).