Canada established diplomatic relations with Lebanon in 1954, when Canada deployed an "Envoy Extraordinaire" to Beirut. Canada sent its first Ambassador to Lebanon in 1958. The Canadian Embassy in Beirut was closed in 1985 during the civil war, and reopened in January 1995.
Lebanon opened a consulate in Canada in 1946. This was replaced by a Consulate General in 1949. Lebanon opened its Embassy to Canada in 1958.
Canada-Lebanon bilateral relations are rooted in the strong ties generated by Canada’s Lebanese-Canadian community and the large Canadian diaspora in Lebanon. The first Lebanese immigrants arrived in Montreal in 1882. During the 1975-1990 civil war in Lebanon, Canada gave refuge to thousands of affected Lebanese. The community was estimated at 165,000 in the 2006 census, making it the largest ethnic Arab group in Canada. The evacuation in 2006 of Canadians from Lebanon was the largest in Canada’s history and spoke of the importance of this diaspora community. This relationship is strengthened by close cultural ties, and participation in La Francophonie.
Bilateral trade in merchandise between Lebanon and Canada has totalled around $109 million Canadian dollars in 2014. Canadian exports to Lebanon totalled around $84.5 million, and imports totalled around $24.7 million.
Canada’s top export products to Lebanon include motor vehicles, pharmaceutical products and aircraft; while Lebanon’s main exports to Canada are preparations of vegetables/fruits, beverages and coffee/tea/spices.
Canada has signed a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) in Beirut on 1997 which came into force on 1999. An Air Transport Agreement was initiated in Montreal on 1998 and signed in Beirut on 2000. In 2013, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Canadian Commercial Corporation and the Lebanese Ministry of Finance to strengthen trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.
Canadian companies/institutions are increasingly present in Lebanon, either directly or through agents/representatives/franchises/partnerships, especially in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT); Consumer Products; Education; Agrifood; Building Products; Sustainable Technologies and Life Sciences sectors.
In response to the Syrian crisis, Canada has contributed C$503.5 million in humanitarian assistance funding of which over C$103.6 million directly supports activities in Lebanon, to strengthen the country’s resilience in dealing with the pressure of hosting over 1.2 million refugees. Funding is channeled through UN Agencies, International NGOs, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Canadian humanitarian assistance is helping to provide, amongst other things, food, clean drinking water, shelter, health, education and protection services, as well as contributing to strengthening existing structures and services in the country for both refugees and Lebanese host communities. A total of C$22.5 million was mobilized to support the “No Lost Generation Initiative”, which is helping improve access to education and provide protection services for conflict-affected children in Lebanon.
Canada’s assistance to Lebanon existed far before the Syrian crisis. Following the 2006 conflict, Canada contributed C$30.5 million to respond effectively to humanitarian relief, early recovery, and stabilization needs in Lebanon. At the “2007 International Conference of Support to Lebanon”, Canada pledged an additional C$20 million to support the Lebanese government as it worked to implement social and political reforms, focusing on democratic governance and the development of the private sector.
Canada’s support to Lebanon, is not only limited to the Syrian crisis response. The bilateral relations between the two countries are historical and rooted in the strong people to people ties generated by Canada’s Lebanese-Canadian community and the large Canadian diaspora in Lebanon. Since 2011, Canada’s bilateral assistance program has provided over C$17 million towards a variety of developmental objectives and initiatives, including the National Poverty Targeting Program, which aims at alleviating the suffering of the most vulnerable Lebanese. And with Education among its top development priorities, Canada has also allocated C$10 million to strengthen the Lebanese education system and improve access to quality education for all children.
The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) supports projects proposed and implemented by local civil society organizations in Lebanon. In 2014-15 the CFLI funded projects targeting priority issues like protection of vulnerable groups and advocacy of human rights, sex and gender-based violence (SGBV), and early marriage (CEFM). The CFLI builds the capacity of local organizations to support communities all across Lebanon.
Canada strongly supports the Lebanese government’s efforts to strengthen democracy, justice and security in Lebanon. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was established at the Hague in March 2009 under United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1757 in order to investigate the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and other victims. Canada has contributed more than $6.5 million to the STL through DFATD’s Global Peace and Security Fund and through secondments of police officers. Canada is also the vice-chair of its Management Committee, which provides administrative and budgetary oversight. Former Deputy Attorney-General of Canada Daniel Bellemare was the first prosecutor of the STL. He was succeeded in 2012 by fellow Canadian, Norman Farrell. Canada supports the work of the STL as an independent judicial institution.”
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