Hon. Amina Gerba: Honourable senators, I rise today to underscore the tremendous importance of this week’s visit to Canada by Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. Equally important are his meeting with the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, and the high-level dialogue to take place between our illustrious guest and Ministers Joly, Ng and Sajjan.
I want to celebrate this historic visit by a Chairperson of the African Union Commission. Such a visit has never taken place in our country.
With its 55 member countries, the African Union symbolizes the coordination of development efforts, the safeguarding of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the promotion of international cooperation and especially Africa’s economic integration. It is an essential partner and the chairperson’s visit to Canada is an opportunity for our country to make up for lost time in our relationship with this continent that is in the throes of progress.
Colleagues, the government must significantly boost its diplomatic presence on the continent, take advantage of the assets and the weight of the African diaspora, which the African Union Commission has identified as the continent’s sixth zone, implement measures to promote trade and investment in Africa and work on a future free-trade agreement between Canada and Africa that will give our businesses access to one of the world’s biggest markets, whose 1.3 billion consumers will become 2.5 billion in 2050.
Honourable senators, again, I’m delighted that the Chairperson of the African Union commission is in Canada. I hope this will lead to some very positive outcomes for our country.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.