A Message from the High Commissioner of Canada on the Occasion of Canada Day


On Canada Day, Canadians - from coast to coast to coast, and across the globe - celebrate and reflect on what their country means to them. Canadians are proud of their country – for many, it has afforded them the opportunity to lead healthy and prosperous lives and to live in a place where inclusion is valued and practiced. Yet Canadians are also mindful of the many challenges we must confront – not everyone feels included or has the same opportunities, discrimination and inequality persist, and our collective prosperity and security depends on an international rules based system that is increasingly under strain.

The Canada of today is one that our founders would view largely as a success. Democracy, pluralism, respect for human rights and the rule of law are among the cornerstones that make Canada rank among the best countries in which to live. The linguistic, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of Canada shapes who we are – a source of strength, creativity and vibrancy, and one of our greatest assets. Canada’s path to greater inclusion has not always been smooth; we recognize where we have fallen short and where we need to do more, not least advancing reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

We also recognize that supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is crucial to continued prosperity at home and the best way to eradicate poverty and achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals around the world. Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy includes supporting the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls, strengthening local women’s rights organizations, and advancing women’s political participation. Given the importance of these issues to Sri Lanka’s own future and prosperity, we are proud to be working with a range of government and non-government partners on these issues in this country.

Canada is also drawing on our own experience as a bilingual country to support the implementation of Sri Lanka’s Official Languages Act. We believe that strengthening inclusion, reconciliation and the rule of law is in the interests of all Sri Lankans – we are encouraged by the initial steps taken to operationalize the Office of Missing Persons, and we continue to call on Sri Lanka to fully implement the commitments made to its own people, including through Human Rights Council resolution 30/1, to ensure a peaceful, reconciled, inclusive and prosperous Sri Lanka. We also welcome Sri Lanka’s decision to accede to the Ottawa Treaty to ban land mines; Sri Lanka’s path from being one of the most mine affected countries in the world to one that is well on track to being mine impact free by 2020 is remarkable, and Canada is proud to be part of this effort.

Sri Lanka’s engagement with the international community and global institutions leads me to a final point: the importance of a rules-based international order to the interests of countries like Canada and Sri Lanka. Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, recently made a compelling case for defending and renewing this order – notwithstanding its shortcomings, the rules-based international order has for over 70 years advanced the prosperity and security of all countries, developed and developing alike. The unpalatable alternative is a resurgent authoritarianism, one that employs angry populism and feeds off the insecurities of those that feel increasingly feel left behind. Sri Lanka has taken important steps to re-engage the international community and global institutions, and to expanding and diversifying its trade ties and sources of investment. Canada strongly encourages Sri Lanka and its people to continue on this path. As a longstanding partner, we will assist where we can.

On a personal note, this Canada Day marks my first since assuming office in Colombo. I look forward to joining all Canadians in Sri Lanka, Canada and across the world to celebrate Canada and its accomplishments, and to share my hope for a future filled with peace and prosperity for all.

Happy Canada Day!

David McKinnon
High Commissioner of Canada to Sri Lanka
Ambassador of Canada to Maldives