The Canadian-Libyan post-revolution bilateral relationship is based on mutual respect, common interest in promoting democratic governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and a desire to strengthen commercial relations. Due to violence and insecurity, Canada closed its Embassy in Libya in July 2014 and has temporarily relocated its operations to Tunisia. This is a temporary measure and has no relation to our continuing and long-standing diplomatic relations with Libya. We will return to Tripoli when a secure and stable environment has been restored. According to the most recent Canadian census, there were 3,570 people of Libyan origin in Canada. Also, more than 1000 young Libyans are currently studying in Canadian colleges and universities.
In 2011, through its role in NATO Operation Unified Protector, Canada was among the first countries to respond to the demands by the Libyan people for democracy and freedom. Canada made a significant contribution to the success of the popular uprising and provided $ 10.6 million in humanitarian assistance.
In June 2011, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird visited Benghazi to support civil society and the democratic transition, and in October 2011, he visited Tripoli to show support for post-conflict stabilization efforts. In January 2012, International Trade Minister Ed Fast led a large delegation of companies to Tripoli to further promote our trade and investment relationship and reinvigorate commercial relations.
The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the Libyan authorities during their critical transitional period. In support of post-conflict stabilization efforts, Canada has allocated approximately $ 20 million, including:
In addition, through the Deauville Partnership Middle East North Africa Transition Fund, of which Canada is a major contributor, $13 M was approved to support Libya’s small and medium enterprise development, in order to generate employment particular for youth and vulnerable groups, build leadership in the government, help develop the private sector, reform the electricity sector and modernize customs and borders.
In May 2012, Prime Minister Harper announced a $15 million contribution to a transition Fund to provide grants and technical assistance to help accelerate economic and democratic reform efforts in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. Canada is also a key stakeholder in international financial institutions which play a central role in helping North African states achieve economic recovery and democracy.
The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) has contributed $ 260,000 (2012-14) to support local community development and the active engagement of Libyan civil society organizations and NGOs. Projects supported the democratic transition, encouraged women to participate in the political process, delivered humanitarian assistance to combat-affected populations, and promoted direct engagement of citizens in the constitutional drafting process.
The on-going civil conflict in Libya has delayed the Libyan democratic transition, resulted in serious violation of basic human rights, caused the destruction vital infrastructure and severe economic disruption, led to widespread human suffering, and the collapse of vital institutions. Canada continues to support efforts to build a stable, democratic and prosperous Libya, in cooperation with the UN and other international partners. Only a united Libya, under the leadership of an inclusive and democratic government, anchored on the rule of law, will be able to mobilise the political, economic, social and security resources necessary to advance the democratic transition and defeat terrorism.
Canada – Libya relations are limited. However, Canada is committed to strengthening and expanding its commercial ties and investment in Libya, when the situation stabilizes. Canadian commercial activity in Libya, which had been on an upswing immediately following the revolution, was swiftly curtailed by the violence and increasing insecurity. Ongoing civil conflict, coupled with the threat of terrorist attack, the emergence of an environment of impunity, the collapse of the rule of law and key state institutions, and the unavailability of a wide range of essential services have considerably increased the risks associated with the pursuit of commercial activities in Libya. In 2014, Canadian exports to Libya totalled $78.7 million (down from CDN $116.1 in 2013), Canadian imports from Libya totalled CDN $10.2 million (down from CDN $80.5 in 2013). Due to the suspension of operations of Canadian companies in Libya, these figures would likely decrease significantly next year. Despite very interesting opportunities available in sectors of Canadian expertise, lack of stability and insecurity in Libya have discouraged the entry of Canadian companies into the market.