François-Philippe thank you very much for your very warm welcome. I’m pleased to be back in Canada for a second time since my appointment.
First thing I needed to do is offer condolences to the people of Canada, particularly the families as they grieve for those who died tragically in yesterday’s Ukrainian international airlines crash as well, of course, as the UK victims and all of those who perished.
We mourn their loss and our thoughts are with all of their families and their loved ones at such a difficult time.
We agree with the Canadian assessment that indicates that Ukrainian international airlines flight was shot down by a surface to air missile, as François-Philippe said, it may well have been unintentional.
Our view on the crash underlines why we urgently now need an independent, full and transparent investigation to establish what caused it. The Iranian regime must open up to the international community including access to the crash site, so we can get the truth as quickly as possible and give the families of the victims an understanding of what happened to their loved ones. The families of the victims deserve to know the truth and we say that whether they are Canadian families, British families, Ukrainian families, Swedish, German, and, let us not forget, Iranian families because they’ve suffered the greatest loss of life in this terrible incident and they deserve to know the truth too.
Now, this is my second visit to Canada in my time as Foreign Secretary and that’s because I consider Canada one of our very closest of friends, and of course it’s a tragic moment and I wouldn’t have wanted to come back for a second time ideally in such circumstances but would always want to be by the side of our Canadian friends in their hour of need.
We are bound by our common values, our shared history and the precious relationship between our peoples. And I look no further to the great city of Montreal. We’re proud your flag bears the Scottish thistle, English rose, and the Irish shamrock alongside the fleur de lys and the white pine.
Our countries stand together to ensure peace and prosperity right around the world. And we’re committed to ensuring that when we leave the EU, this relationship, this friendship, goes from strength to strength.
We know that trade between the UK and Canada increased by 14% last year. Foreign Direct Investment is rising too, around 140 British companies have made their home Quebec, including HSBC and Rolls-Royce.
At the same time, we feel honoured that over 100 Quebec companies have made a home in the UK in sectors as diverse as IT consulting to aerospace.
But let me just say we value everything that the Canadian entrepreneurs, the workers, the citizens in the UK contribute to our country.
So there’s no wonder we feel strongly about strengthening our trading relationship post-Brexit and together we’ve already put in measures in place to ensure continuity and certainty of trade between our countries, as the UK leaves the EU. And beyond the implementation period, we want to see the strongest possible commercial relationship so that our business can continue to thrive on both sides of the Atlantic.
But our friendship is also about our leadership on the global stage as champions of peace and security. We stand shoulder to shoulder together as an ally, and that is a timely reminder of why that alliance is so important.
At NATO back in December, François-Philippe, we were reflecting on 70 years of stability, solidarity, and peace. And in a changing world of rapidly evolving threats we know that alliances like NATO are now more important than ever.
Canada’s contribution has always been absolutely, a crucial element of NATO. We’ve got British troops leading NATO’s deployment in Estonia and just next door Canadian forces are taking up that responsibility in Latvia. We warmly welcome Canada’s increasing commitment to the NATO readiness initiative in December and your choice of BAE’s systems and Lockheed Martin’s design for the next generation of Canadian warships.
I think these are just examples, illustrations if you like, of the deep bond of trust we have with each other and how we stand together in defence of our shared democratic values.
So Canada is a truly treasured and unique friend to the United Kingdom. In fact, you’re the only country that sits alongside the UK in NATO, the G7, G20, the Commonwealth and the Five Eyes intelligence agency.
So against the bedrock of our alliance today, we talked about the our shared concern around the situation in Iraq and Iran. I think we all agree, war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh and the other terrorist groups. We condemn the attack on Iraqi military bases hosting Coalition including British forces, and we urge Iran not to repeat the reckless and dangerous attacks and rather pursue the urgent de-escalation and return to diplomatic dialogue.
And of course our joint mission in the world is not confined to our shared security or indeed trade. It’s about our joint mission in the world as a force for good. And as we leave the EU, a crucial part of the UK’s engagement as a truly Global Britain, will be based in our role as global good citizen.
We know that we share that that same instinct and those same values with Canada and the Canadian people. So we welcome Canada’s pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and we look forward to working very closely with you on the planning for COP26 and the Global UN Climate Change talks which we’re delighted to host in Glasgow this year, as we look to build a more resilient and more sustainable future for our children and for the next generation.
In 2017, Canada and the UK launched the Powering Past Coal Alliance, bringing together governments, businesses, international organizations in making a point to phase out unabated coal power generation.
And finally, François-Philippe, we have both spent time working in the Hague, another thing we have in common. And so we know first-hand how important it is to stand together in support of human rights and the rule of law around the world.
I’m looking forward to continuing the good work our countries are doing together on promoting and safeguarding Media Freedom, including the prize that François-Philippe has just announced. Last summer the UK and Canada brought together 1500 representatives from over 100 countries for the world’s first global conference on Media Freedom in London.
And it’s led by our 2 countries that we’re working with partners around the world to create legislative protections for journalists, to provide resources for journalists who find themselves at risk and to increase the accountability for those who threaten the media, the journalists, who speak truth to power.
And in the same spirit, we look to Canada which has been at the forefront of developing the Magnitsky-style mode of human rights sanctions, which are imposed against those responsible for the very worst human rights abuses. These sanctions are a powerful new tool to hold the world’s killers and torturers to account and keep human rights abuses and their blood money out of our respective countries.
Once we leave the EU, the UK will establish our own human rights sanctions regime, inspired very much by the Canadian model. And we look forward to collaborating with Canada on human rights sanctions and ultimately above all, to defend the values that our 2 countries share.
In just a few weeks time, when the UK leaves the EU, we will be able to forge an even stronger relationship with one of our most trusted allies and friends.
So François-Philippe, thank you for being such an early and energetic friend as we engage in that endeavour. I look forward to working together with you for the benefit of the people of our 2 countries.
Thank you very much.