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President Tsai meets Canadian delegation led by Member of Parliament John McKay
President Tsai meets Canadian delegation led by Member of Parliament John McKay

On the morning of April 12, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a Canadian delegation led by Member of Parliament John McKay, chair of the Standing Committee on National Defense. In remarks, President Tsai thanked the Canadian government for supporting Taiwan's international participation at important global gatherings, and expressed hope that through the signing of a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement (FIPA), we can further deepen our partnership. The president said Taiwan will do its utmost to safeguard the values of freedom and democracy alongside our like-minded international partners. Noting that Taiwan has made all the necessary preparations and meets high-standard international trade rules, she also expressed hope that Canada will support Taiwan's accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), so that we can bring about greater growth and prosperity.

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

I extend a warm welcome to Chair McKay and his delegation. This group comprises members of three committees: the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, the Standing Committee on National Defense, and the Special Committee on the Canada-People's Republic of China Relationship. All four of Canada's major political parties are also represented within, demonstrating cross-party support for Taiwan. I would like to express sincere gratitude to all of you on behalf of the people of Taiwan.

Several members of your delegation have visited Taiwan multiple times before. I would like to thank you for your long-term support for Taiwan in parliament and for promoting our bilateral cooperation through numerous legislative initiatives. I recently completed a visit to Guatemala and Belize, with stopovers in the United States. Through this trip, we again sent a message to the international community that Taiwan is determined to safeguard freedom and democracy, gaining acknowledgement and support from our democratic partners.

In the face of continued authoritarian expansionism, it is critical that democracies stand united. Canada is a very important democratic partner to Taiwan. We will do our utmost to jointly safeguard the values of freedom and democracy with Canada and other like-minded international partners.

Canada has demonstrated its concern over peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait through its new Indo-Pacific Strategy, which also mentions that Canada will continue to strengthen its partnership with Taiwan. The Canadian government has firmly defended Taiwan's international participation at gatherings such as the World Health Assembly and the International Civil Aviation Organization. I once again sincerely thank the government of Canada for prioritizing and supporting Taiwan.

In addition, Taiwan and Canada work closely together in areas including economic and cultural affairs. Earlier this year, Taiwan and Canada formally launched negotiations on a FIPA. We hope that through the signing of this agreement, we can deepen our partnership and spur even more trade and economic cooperation.

Our economies are highly complementary. As Canada is a core member of the CPTPP, we hope that it will support Taiwan's accession to this trade bloc. Taiwan has made all the necessary preparations – we meet high-standard international trade rules and strive to create greater growth and prosperity together with our partners.

I believe your visit will promote further cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and Canada. I again welcome you to Taiwan and wish you a fruitful and pleasant stay.

Chair McKay then delivered remarks, a transcript of which follows:

Thank you, Madam President for the warmth of your welcome. We particularly appreciate it. May I say before I begin any remarks, that I have been a closet admirer of you since you became the president, and have particularly admired the courage and your strength and the honor in which you've discharged your office. And I know I've been on the other side of the Pacific, but nevertheless, on the other side of the Pacific, the quality of your presidency has not gone unnoticed. And I'm sure I speak for my entire delegation here, to say that we too have been admirers of your presidency. 

As you can see, I have a lot of help here. I dare say you don't have nearly as much help as I do. But probably you don't need as much help as I do. I particularly appreciate your time in these circumstances. It's very unusual for you, as a president of a nation, to give so much time to a delegation of any kind in the circumstances where another nation has been very aggressive towards your very existence. And while we are on the other side of the Pacific, I dare say, the shores between the eastern Pacific and the western Pacific have shrunk over the last few years.

I'm sure you've been briefed on the interference and influence operations carried on by the government of China in Canada. And that has heightened our awareness of these times and brought us together as nations – democratic nations who are facing this menace. So one of the things that we anticipate that we might learn in our time here as the means by which Taiwan has maintained its democracy, I dare say strengthened its democracy, has maintained and strengthened its prosperity, notwithstanding the massive efforts on the part of the People's Republic of China.

Now as you've rightly noted, our committee here is heavily weighted to defense and security; necessarily so. And all of these members of the delegation occupy significant positions in their party or on their committees. But it is a testimony to the concern that Canada has for the ongoing viability of Taiwan, that we are here to identify that Taiwan's issues are Canada's issues and Canada's issues are Taiwan's issues.

So while we are weighted towards defense and security, we also take note of the desire to be involved in the CPTPP and FIPA. And as you know, on economic issues in particular, the progress is intermittent. But we hope that our presence here will push those in the right direction. But you can't have economic prosperity without security. And that is what we are focused on here while we're here. So I'm going to call up my friend Ken Hardie, who chaired the Canada to China committee and to present to you a report – a unanimous report – by the members of the House of Commons, some of whom are authors of that report, here to give you an update – a concrete update – of the attitude of the members of the House of Commons to Taiwan. So with that, I call upon Ken.

Member of Parliament Ken Hardie, chair of the Special Committee on the Canada-People's Republic of China Relationship, then delivered remarks, a transcript of which follows: 

Madam President, I'm honored to be accompanied by the people whose insight and curiosity developed a much better understanding of Taiwan and its place in the world. I want to recognize [Members of Parliament] Michael Chong, Stéphane Bergeron, Heather McPherson, and Raquel Dancho, all of whom asked the questions that gave us the foundation that we needed. But being here is deepening the foundation because in addition to the things that we discovered, the facts, there was something much, much more important. As a parliamentary democracy, our parties quite often are not quite agreeing on issues. We argue. We throw ideas back and forth. But I hope it gives you great comfort to know that this report was unanimous. Everybody on the committee representing all of the parties in the House of Commons were in solidarity with not only what we found, but the deeper meaning behind it.

And the deeper meaning that we found was our shared values – the importance of democracy, the importance of freedom, the importance of free speech, the importance of knowing how to disagree with each other, but in a way that builds rather than tears down. In the interests of the conversation that we're to have, I'll present this to you now, Madam President, with our thanks and our gratitude. A strong relationship in turbulent times really does explain what we're here for and why we're here. Thank you.

Following his remarks, Chair Hardie presented President Tsai with a copy of the House of Commons report titled Canada and Taiwan: A Strong Relationship in Turbulent Times on behalf of the delegation.

The delegation also included Vice Chairs of the Special Committee on the Canada-People's Republic of China Relationship Chong and McPherson, Vice Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development Bergeron, Vice Chair of the Committee on National Defense James Bezan, and other Members of Parliament Cheryl Gallant, Randeep Sarai, Dancho, and Lindsay Mathyssen. They were accompanied to the Presidential Office by Executive Director of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei Jim Nickel.

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