JIS News

TORONTO – Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has expressed gratitude to Canada's Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, for the benefits which Jamaica has derived from 50 years of bilateral relations with the North American country.

"We have been able to count on the ready and valuable support of the Canadian government and people in the fields of education, health, local government, justice reform, disaster preparedness and relief, and agriculture. Our military cooperation stands as an outstanding example to many," Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

She was speaking at a reception to mark 50 years of bilateral relations between Jamaica and Canada, co-hosted by both Prime Ministers, on Monday (October 22) at the Jamaican Canadian Centre in Toronto, Canada. The function formed part of the itinerary for her six-day official visit to Canada, at the invitation of Prime Minister Harper.

Noting that Canada has welcomed Jamaicans who have made that country their home, Prime Minister Simpson Miller pointed out that they, in return, have consistently given back generously "in a way that is worthy of our commendation."

"Right here, in Canada, we have a Jamaican in the Senate, a former Lieutenant Governor, Provincial Ministers of Government, members of the Provincial Legislatures, Jamaicans in academia, philanthropy, business, entrepreneurs, judges, in journalism, health, arts and culture, religion, and government," she noted.

Some of these, she said, include: Devon Clunis, the first Jamaican to be appointed a Police Chief in Canada, for the city of Winnipeg; Jamaican-born High Court Judge, Justice Michael Tulloch, who recently became the first black judge appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal; the establishment of the first radio station dedicated to playing Reggae music; and the contribution of Jamaican farm workers to the development of Canada's agriculture sector.

Mr. Harper also highlighted several persons who have contributed significantly to his country's development.

"I think of my friend Don Meredith, the first Jamaican-Canadian to serve in the Senate of Canada. I think of the late Louise Bennett-Coverley, 'Miss Lou', so beloved in both of our countries for the wit and wisdom of her poetry. I think of Raymond Chang and Michael Lee-Chin, Jamaican entrepreneurs who have made enormous contributions to this country. I think, of course, of the late great former Ontario Lieutenant Governor, Lincoln Alexander, who was a role model to politicians of all backgrounds," Mr. Harper said.

Both Prime Ministers were presented with copies of two books – 'Jamaicans in Canada – When Ackee Meets Codfish', which profiles 250 Jamaican-Canadians who have made significant contributions to Canada; and 'Jamaicans in the Canadian Context – A Multiculturalizing Presence', a compilation of essays from several outstanding persons, about the presence of Jamaicans in Canada.

Approximately 500 persons, inclusive of government officials, heads of Jamaican community organizations and businesses, and members of the clergy, the judiciary, and the diplomatic corps, were in attendance.

While in Canada, Mrs. Simpson Miller and her delegation, which includes Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson; Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister, Onika Miller; and Director of the Bilateral and Regional Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, Ricardo Allicock, will hold discussions and meetings with government and diplomatic officials, and members of Jamaican organizations.