On November 9, 2023 Robert Ready, Chair of the Latin America and Caribbean Study Group of the CIC National Capital Branch (Ottawa), moderated a discussion between Latin American Ambassadors, Canadian Parliamentarians and Global Affairs Canada officials. 

Hosted by Senator Rosa Galvez and organized by Latin American (LATAM) Embassies in Ottawa, the inaugural Latin American Dialogue on Parliament Hill took place on November 9, 2023. This event served as a platform for discussions between LATAM Ambassadors and Canadian officials, aiming to shape a shared agenda and  a genuine strategic partnership. 

The gathering featured remarks from The Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism, and Parliamentary Secretary Maninder Sidhu, who addressed the attendees. The interest of the LATAM group in establishing a “true strategic partnership” stems from various factors highlighted by Ambassadors in their speeches. 

  • While Canada-Latin America relations have historically been close, they have not evolved into an explicit Strategic Partnership, except during the Harper government’s Americas Strategy. In the contemporary foreign policy landscape, Strategic Partnerships are prevalent, with Canada recently unveiling an Indo-Pacific Strategy, forming a Canada-CARICOM Strategic Partnership, and participating in the Americas Partnership with select Latin American countries. 
  • In Minister Joly’s recent Foreign Policy speech, Latin America was notably absent, prompting reflection on Canadian interests in the region. Despite the longstanding acknowledgment of the Latin American diaspora’s contribution (as evidenced by Latin American Heritage Month in October), recent Statistics Canada data reveals that the diaspora’s size has been significantly underestimated, now exceeding 1 million people. 
  • Ambassadors emphasized specific issues warranting increased collaboration between Canada and Latin America, spanning trade, integrated supply chains, Free Trade Agreements negotiations, business-to-business contacts, migration, temporary workers, educational exchanges, women’s rights, peace and security, environmental concerns, governance, and global initiatives. 

Global Affairs Canada expressed openness to continued dialogue and suggested the possibility of extending the next Dialogue event to a full day for more in-depth discussions. Recognizing that the optics of Strategic Partnerships may exclude some countries, and that to develop them can be resource intensive,  Global Affairs Canada suggested that  a pragmatic, bottom-up approach to address specific issues might bear more fruit rather than moving immediately towards a comprehensive Canada-Latin America “strategic” partnership. 

The Canadian International Council Latin America and Caribbean Study Group played a supportive role in moderating the event and offered assistance to Latin American Diplomatic Missions and the Government of Canada in advancing a revitalized Canada-Latin America engagement.