This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Skip to Content

Study on Economic and Political Developments in the Republic of Turkey

Second Report of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee —Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Fortin-Duplessis, seconded by the Honourable Senator Unger, for the adoption of the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled: Building Bridges: Canada-Turkey Relations and Beyond, tabled in the Senate on November 28, 2013.

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, entitled Building Bridges: Canada-Turkey Relations and Beyond.

This report was first tabled last June, but with Parliament preparing to adjourn for the summer, some senators did not get a chance to speak to the report. That is why the committee agreed to re-table it this session.

I thank Senator Fortin-Duplessis for her detailed speech on historical and present-day relations between Canada and Turkey, and the tremendous potential we now face to update and move those relations forward.

Although I spoke to the report in some detail in June, I would like to add a few words about some recent achievements that have been attributed to our report.

The leading recommendation in our report was that the Government of Canada maintain consistent, high-level political engagement with the Government of the Republic of Turkey. Our committee viewed such engagement as:

... critical to building the Canada-Turkey relationship, increasing Canada's visibility and helping Canadian businesses to position themselves for success in Turkey.

We placed this recommendation first in our report on the basis that political engagement would underpin the other initiatives that would foster a robust Canada-Turkey commercial relationship.

Many senators will be aware that the Minister of International Trade travelled to Turkey in August, followed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in September. On his trip, Minister Baird met with the President of Turkey and Minister of Foreign Affairs. They discussed regional security issues and Canada's longstanding partnership with Turkey in NATO.

Minister Baird also announced that Canada would upgrade the status of its mission in Istanbul from a consulate to a consulate general.

Minister Fast, for his part, met with Turkey's Minister of Economy, government officials and business leaders. He announced a number of initiatives that respond directly to recommendations made in our committee's report. These include support for the conclusion of explanatory or exploratory talks toward a Canada-Turkey free trade agreement; the creation of a joint economic and trade committee; discussions on expanding air transport services; and a commitment to strengthen exchanges in education and technology.

Following the minister's trip, I was informed by his office that our committee's report was repeatedly highlighted by government officials and business leaders in Turkey as a viable blueprint for furthering Canada-Turkey relations.

A final recent development that I would like to bring to senators' attention addresses our committee's recommendation that the Government of Canada identify Turkey as a strategic commercial priority.

Many senators will be aware that the government released its new Global Markets Action Plan in November. The plan aims to focus the government's efforts on key foreign markets that hold the greatest potential for Canadian business. It identifies Turkey as a target emerging market with broad Canadian interests.

Of course, our committee cannot take credit for this inclusion, but I believe it is fair to say that our committee has helped generate a renewed emphasis on Turkey in Canada's commercial relations abroad.

An overarching message of our committee's report was that Canada is not too late to broaden its relations with Turkey, and that:

... Canada's strategic priorities and commercial strengths coincide with Turkey's foreign policy and trade objectives, as well as its commodity and import needs.

From what we have seen in the months since this report was first tabled, the message has been noted by the government and it is being acted on by the ministers whose continued attention is critical in helping the Canada-Turkey relationship to reach its full potential. I think I speak on behalf of all committee members when I say that I hope our report continues to provide guidance toward this end.

I believe and I have heard, and we have heard today, with some members of our committee dealing with a delegation from Turkey, that our report was very instrumental in forming their side of the debate and dialogue with Canada.

If anyone needs to know the breadth and depth of involvement and success of Senate committees, I believe that the Canada-Turkey report is one that should be used over and over again. It is not one that received much publicity in the press, but that was not our aim. Our aim was to change foreign policy and I believe that we were very instrumental in it. This is the value of this institution and the value of our committees, and I hope that the press will note that as they work towards finding out more about the Senate.

I'm asking to amend the motion put forward very kindly by Senator Fortin-Duplessis. She moved the motion that this report be accepted, but I would like to amend it so we get a full response from the government. I trust that the amendment will be unanimously accepted by the Senate.