For Oral Answer on : 28/09/2023
Question Number(s): 53 Question Reference(s): 41154/23
Department: Foreign Affairs
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans to further deepen and develop Ireland’s relations with Canada; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ireland has had extensive diplomatic and political relations with Canada since the foundation of the State. Diplomatic relations were established in 1939 and the 85th anniversary of diplomatic relations takes place in 2024.
Irish heritage in Canada is deeply rooted with some 4.5 million or 14% having Irish ancestry. The influence of those with Irish heritage in Canada and their affinity with Ireland is a pre-eminent factor in the nurturing of our relationship with Canada.
The Government has delivered on its commitment in Ireland’s “Strategy for the US and Canada 2019-2025” to significantly strengthen Ireland’s diplomatic presence in Canada. In 2018, we opened a new Consulate General in Vancouver and, in 2022, a Consulate General in Toronto was established. In addition to the fulltime diplomatic presence, Ireland has a number of honorary consuls in the Provinces of Alberta (Calgary), Newfoundland and Labrador (St Johns) and Nova Scotia (Halifax). Plans are advanced to appoint a further two honorary consuls, in the Provinces of Alberta (Edmonton) and Quebec.
Our diplomatic presence is complemented by the presence of Ireland’s state agencies. Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Tourism Ireland have offices in Toronto and Enterprise Ireland is also present in Montréal.
High level political visits to Canada have resumed since the pandemic. The 2023 St Patrick’s Day programme saw Minister Michael McGrath, Minister Stephen Donnelly and Minister Simon Harris visit various cities in Canada. In July 2023, Minister of State for International Development and Diaspora, Mr Sean Fleming TD, visited Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto for an extensive trade, community and cultural programme. I anticipate that there will be further opportunity for high level visits to Canada in the coming months. I was also pleased to meet Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly in the margins of the UN High Level Week in New York in September 2023.
Bilateral economic links with Canada were considerably boosted by the entry into provisional force of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Bilateral trade was valued in 2022 at €4.1 billion, overwhelmingly in Ireland’s favour. Ireland’s exports to Canada have grown threefold in this period from €1.1 billion in 2017 to €3.4 billion in 2022. Ireland’s trade surplus with Canada of €2.7 billion in 2022 is the third highest in the EU (behind Germany and Italy). Ireland is Canada’s 12th largest investor at $15bn. Over 75 Canadian companies employ some 15,000 people in Ireland and Irish companies employ some 6,000 people in Canada.
Canada has provided consistent support to the Northern Ireland Peace Process over several decades, most notably in the forms of Judge Peter Cory on collusion and General John de Chastelain on decommissioning. Canada is also an active board member of the International Fund for Ireland (IFI). In April 2023, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, I welcomed Canadian Minister for Labour, Seamus O’Regan and General De Chastelain, to Dublin which provided the opportunity to acknowledge Canada’s contribution to peace on this island.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the good work of the Oireachtas Canada-Ireland Inter-Parliamentary Friendship group, led by Deputy David Stanton, who have been working closely with the Ambassador of Canada to Ireland, Her Excellency Nancy Smyth, to promote political and cultural exchange between Ireland and Canada.