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Oct 31, 2014 at 07:13 AM

Welcome to my online office. I have set up this website to give you a chance
to interact with me directly and to learn a little bit more about my work to
Stand Up for St. Catharines in Ottawa. I hope you will take the time to read
my blog, check out the community calendar and look at the services available
through my Community Office. Most of all, I hope you will take the time to
communicate your ideas and concerns by commenting on my blog, voting for the
online polls or sending me an e-mail. This website is here for you, so
please share your thoughts and ideas.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rick Dykstra

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage


A New Era in Canada/EU Relations
Sep 26, 2014 at 02:30 PM

Declaration by the Prime Minister of Canada and the Presidents of the European Council and European Commission – a new era in Canada/EU relations

September 26, 2014
Ottawa, Ontario

We, the leaders of Canada and the European Union (EU), meeting today in Ottawa, are committed to strengthening and deepening our strategic partnership that builds on our shared history and values.  We reaffirmed our commitment to contributing to our mutual prosperity through our continued cooperation. We discussed the next steps with respect to the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Canada-EU Trade Agreement) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), which together mark the beginning of a new, dynamic chapter in relations between Canada and the EU. We have also consulted on plans to strengthen our joint efforts to address international peace and security challenges and other crucial global issues of mutual concern.

Trade and the Economy

Today marks a truly historic moment in the evolution of the Canada-EU relationship as we celebrate the end of negotiations of the Canada-EU Trade Agreement. The Agreement delivers on the 2009 promise of a very comprehensive liberalization of trade in goods and services, significant new opportunities in government procurement, provisions to enhance and encourage investment, and improved and modernized rules on other trade-related issues. The Canada-EU Trade Agreement also establishes a range of cooperation mechanisms that will ensure continued collaboration between Canada and the EU as we continue to strengthen and deepen our economic partnership. At the same time, Canada and the EU place a strong emphasis on sustainable development, on cultural diversity, and on the right to regulate in the public interest within their territories.

Recognizing that this is a time of continued recovery in the global economy, we highlight the importance of the Canada-EU Trade Agreement as a vehicle to create new prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. The Agreement will help generate more trade and two-way investment, and promote jobs and growth. We will work expeditiously to ensure that all our businesses, workers and consumers throughout Canada and EU Member States are equally positioned to realize the opportunities created by this historic accord as soon as possible, and will lend our full support to its early ratification through our respective legal and political processes.

This ambitious and ground-breaking agreement between Canada and the EU sends a positive signal about the importance of further trade liberalization. We are committed to undertaking further efforts to put the Trade Facilitation Agreement and other decisions of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference back on track.

Deepening our Strategic Partnership

Today, we also celebrate the successful end of negotiations for the Strategic Partnership Agreement between Canada and the EU, which offers an important cooperation framework to strengthen our relations and deepen our foreign policy cooperation, and provides a platform for joint action on global issues. The SPA will contribute to stronger ties in areas such as energy, research and innovation, science and technology, and the Arctic. The agreement also seeks to enrich our dialogue on issues that directly affect the well-being of our peoples, such as the environment, migration, consular protection, people-to-people links and the special needs of youth.

We commit to ensure, as soon as possible, visa-free travel between our countries for all Canadian and EU citizens, also so that they will benefit fully from the new trade and economic opportunities that are being created between Canada and the EU.

International Peace and Security

Based on our common values and in order to foster global peace and security, we will work together to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law.  We will also enhance EU-Canada and Transatlantic cooperation in international peace and security, the fight against terrorism and organized crime, and international non-proliferation and disarmament.  

Canada and the EU remain deeply concerned by the situation in Ukraine, and condemn the aggression by Russian armed forces on Ukrainian soil and the illegal annexation of Crimea. While we welcome the agreements on a ceasefire reached in Minsk on 5 September and 19 September 2014, they must be respected and fully implemented. Russia must withdraw its military assets and forces from inside Ukraine and along the Ukrainian border, and continue to de-escalate the situation. Russia must also take concrete steps to allow for a political and diplomatic solution that fully respects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We expect Russia to return to the path of full compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities. Canada and the EU continue to follow the developments on the ground, and stand ready to adapt their reaction and decisions with a view to encouraging further progress.  In this context, we emphasize our commitment towards long lasting peace, prosperity, stability and security in Eastern Europe, and to that end support the further development of the Eastern Partnership.

Canada and the EU are extremely concerned by the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Syria and Iraq as a result of the occupation of parts of their territory by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). We are appalled by and firmly condemn the indiscriminate killings and other violations of international law perpetrated by this and other terrorist organisations, in particular against persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities and against women and other vulnerable groups. Those responsible for such crimes must be held to account. We will, with other partners from within and outside the region, assist the people of Syria and Iraq to act decisively against the threat of ISIL. Instability in Syria, caused by the Assad regime's brutal war against its own people, has allowed ISIL to flourish. A lasting solution urgently requires a political transition in Syria. In Iraq, we will work together to support the Iraqi people to meet this challenge, and stand ready to support a new inclusive Iraqi government as it moves to address the needs of all Iraqis, regardless of ethnic origin or religious belief.

We strongly believe that determined action is required to stem the flow of foreign fighters and will accelerate efforts to prevent radicalisation and extremism, share information more effectively, dissuade, detect and disrupt suspicious travel, prevent financial support, and investigate and prosecute foreign fighters.

Building on our long-standing cooperation in crisis management and support for good governance, we will strengthen cooperation further in support of our respective efforts in the wider Middle East, Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, and the Western Balkans.

Global and Regional Issues

We will revitalize our cooperation in energy including under the 2007 High-Level Energy Dialogue, particularly in key areas such as energy security, increased energy efficiency, renewable energy, the safe and responsible exploitation of conventional and unconventional energy resources, LNG trade, and improved market transparency and stability.

We reaffirm our determination to work together and with partners towards the adoption of an ambitious, effective, fair climate agreement applicable to all, with legal force, in December 2015 at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Paris (COP21), for which we will communicate our national mitigation contributions as agreed in Warsaw, with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.  We will continue to work with others to mobilize climate finance from a variety of sources, including the private sector, to enable the investment shift required for the long-term transition towards low-emission economies, including through financial support to developing countries.

We welcome the deepening of ties in Arctic cooperation, including through the Arctic Council. EU and Canada are strategic partners in the field of research and innovation.  We wish to reinforce our collaboration under the existing Agreement for Scientific and Technical Cooperation Between Canada and the European Community through active participation in the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, including in priority areas of Arctic and marine research, in follow-up to the 2013 Galway Statement.

We are committed to work with all partners to agree to an ambitious post-2015 development agenda anchored in a single set of goals which should be action-oriented, concise, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries, while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development, and respecting national policies and priorities. The agenda should reinforce the international community’s commitment to poverty eradication and sustainable development. We also remain committed to the need for a strong post-2015 accountability mechanism.

We discussed the health of women and children as a pressing global issue, welcomed initiatives such as the May 28-30 Toronto Summit and sessions held this week on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly on these issues, and noted that ending preventable maternal and child deaths within a generation could be within arm's reach with a renewed global commitment.

Canada and the EU expressed their concern about the Ebola crisis in Africa, and stressed the importance of a coordinated international response to assist affected countries to tackle the diseases as swiftly and efficiently as possible.

This Ottawa Summit has given renewed voice and vision to our partnership, and has positioned us to work more closely and effectively together across a range of priority areas, for the prosperity and security of our peoples, and the global community.

  • Economic Action Plan - CETA



Chronology of events and key milestones

Last Updated ( Sep 29, 2014 at 04:28 PM )
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada in New York
Sep 25, 2014 at 12:00 AM

September 25, 2014
New York City, New York

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today delivered the following remarks in an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City:

“Good evening.

“Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

“It is both an honour and a pleasure for me to once again address this Assembly.

“For more than 70 years, Canada has supported the United Nations and its institutions, in the pursuit of world peace.

“On many occasions Canadians have put their lives on the line to deter active conflict between peoples.

“It’s a duty we accept and it’s a record of which we are proud.

“Today, there are many embattled parts of the world where the suffering of local populations and the threats to global security deserve our urgent attention, and I could easily use my entire time here on any one of them.

“There are however, other areas of service to humanity.

“It is to some of these that I wish to speak tonight.

“For, there is more to peace than the absence of war.

“Where human misery abounds, where grinding poverty is the rule, where justice is systematically denied, there is no real peace, only the seeds of future conflict.

“Of course, misery and injustice are not the only roots of war.

“We need only look at the world today to appreciate this.

“Then we understand how the worst of human nature – perverse ideologies, religious extremism, and the lust for power and plunder – can rob people in so many places of property, of hope and of life itself.

“That’s why Canada has always been ready and willing to join with other civilized peoples and to challenge affronts to the international order, affronts to human dignity itself, such as are today present in Eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine, in the Middle East, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, and of course many parts of Africa.

“Canada’s positions on these issues are well known, and we will continue to contribute to the extent to which we are able in assisting our friends and allies in the international community to deal with these grave challenges.

“But while these extreme situations are being confronted, other problems, pandemics, climate change, and of course the problems of underdevelopment remain.

“And we feel strongly that no effort is ever in vain if it offers people an alternative to conflict and an opportunity to better their lives and those of their families.

“Canadians, therefore, seek a world where freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are respected.

“We hold these things to be intrinsically right and good.

“And we also believe that they are the necessary foundation for a better world for more people, necessary for prosperity, and with prosperity comes hope, and with hope, the greater inclination of free peoples everywhere to find peaceful solutions to the things that divide them.

“Indeed, we believe that freedom, prosperity and peace form a virtuous circle.

“For this reason, the growth of trade between nations and the delivery of effective development assistance to ordinary people – simple, practical aid – these are the things that have become the signatures of our Government’s outreach in the world.

“Trade means jobs, growth and opportunities.

“It has made great nations out of small ones.

“The story of my own country, Canada, is a case in point.

“Historically, trade has built our country, just as today, it is reshaping our world.

“Trade means ordinary people can support their families and even dare to dream of something much more.

“Our Government has worked hard to establish a vast network of modern trade agreements.

“The trade agreements we have concluded tear down the barriers of tariff and excise, and enlarge markets and opportunities for buyers and sellers alike.

“Canada has now established such links with countries that today possess more than a quarter of the world’s people and nearly half the world’s business.

“And our free-trade network will grow larger yet.

“This is not, by the way, an exclusive club for wealthy nations.

“Canada has liberalized its trade with countries known more for their determination to succeed than for the size of their economies, thereby opening the way for them to access Canadian and other markets.

“There is no reason to stop now.

“As indicated by my colleague from Senegal, President Macky Sall, aid is needed for development but what is needed even more is investment.

“He is quite right.

“Yet, no matter how freely we trade, millions of people will for some time to come need a helping hand.

“Easily the most important example and the one closest to my heart, is the worldwide struggle upon which so many of you have been engaged, the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Initiative.

“Saving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable mothers, infants and children must remain a top global priority.

“That is, the world must honour the commitments made in this very room to mothers and children in the year 2000.

“And there has been remarkable progress.

“Thanks to inexpensive vaccines and the combined effort of multiple partners, more children are being vaccinated today than ever before.

“And as the importance of nutrition becomes better understood, more and more children are surviving.

“Thanks to simple, low-cost, easily accessible techniques, literally millions of mothers and children who, a mere 14 years ago, might have died today not only survive, but thrive.

“I think especially of the 2010 meeting of world leaders at Muskoka, that raised about seven and a half billion dollars, two billion of it from private donors.

“Based on that, the United Nations launched what the Secretary-General called the Every Woman, Every Child Initiative, with the goal of saving 16 million lives by 2016.

“An important aspect of this work has been to monitor both the receipt of monies pledged, and how they are used.

“The assurance of full accountability has allowed recipients to plan with greater certainty and donors to give with confidence.

“With His Excellency, whom you just heard, President Kikwete of Tanzania, it was my honour to co-chair the World Health Organization’s Information and Accountability Commission linked to this initiative.

“Ladies and gentlemen, on this, we have a clear vision and that vision is achievable.

“We know how to help many of these vulnerable people.

“We have seen what can be done.

“We want, therefore, simply to rally the passion and the will to make it happen.

“We are preventing, and we can prevent more deaths, deaths of thousands of children every day from easily preventable causes.

“We can stop thousands of mothers dying in childbirth who, with relatively little intervention, would survive.

“We also know who we need to be working with: new partnerships; partnerships that bring together governments, agencies of the UN – the World Health Organization, the World Food Program, UNICEF – with the private sector, partnerships that are producing real results and taking us to new heights of excellence.

“Here, I’m thinking of the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Network in Canada, a group that represents a broad base of Canadian civil society, and are key implementing partners on the ground.

“As many of you know, this past May in Toronto, Canada hosted the world’s leading actors on this subject.

“We heard the success stories, for example, the Micronutrient Initiative through which 180 million children received Vitamin A, pills costing pennies, but that drop child mortality by 25 per cent.

“We heard about the Vaccine Alliance, GAVI, and how during the three year period ¬between 2010 and 2013, immunizations saved the lives of two million children.

“We have partnerships to deliver better nutrition and partnerships to deliver better measurement, because vital statistics are critical.

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

“And in this mission, we measure progress in precious lives saved.

“So every child needs a birth certificate.

“We also heard about the now greater demand for accountability, in regard not only to the vast sums of money pledged, but also the way in which that money is spent.

“So our consensus was clear.

“We have seen success, and we have momentum.

“Saving the lives of children and mothers is a fight we can win.

“To get it done, two things are needed now: the political focus and renewed financial commitment.

“I therefore urge this assembly, in the strongest terms, to ensure that in the evolving, post-2015 development agenda, maternal, newborn and child health remain a clear and top priority.

“And one of a limited number of priorities.

“That is the political focus we need.

“Then there is the financial commitment.

“I know we all have many competing priorities.

“But, to have come so far that to stop now would be a tragedy.

“I must tell you, I was very encouraged this afternoon at the Secretary General’s Every Woman Every Child event, when President Kim of the World Bank and other leaders announced new financing for the Bank’s Global Financing Facility For Every Woman, Every Child.

“This Facility will help developing countries access the financing required to improve their health systems.

“I am pleased to announce that Canada will financially support the World Bank’s Global Financing Facility For Every Woman, Every Child.

“We urge other countries to do likewise because, to provide viable solutions to prevent the tragic death of women and children, we need to increase budget allocations on the part of both donors and the developing countries.

“Now ladies and gentlemen, in closing let me just say this.

“There are many individual countries and many specific causes that will rightly occupy your, our, deliberations here this week.

“Let’s also not forget to also look beyond those crises, at the long-term opportunities and efforts that can truly transform the world.

“We have it in our power to create a better kind of world for our children’s children than we have today.

“And we should.

“For, it was never the intention of the founders of the United Nations, Canada being one of them, that ours would be a world where terrorists could get the resources necessary to sow death and destruction, but where workers and families could not get jobs and opportunities, or where mothers and children could not obtain the necessities required to live and to thrive.

“The world that Canada strives for is the world that the founders of the United Nations wanted from the beginning, as boldly articulated in their declaration of 1942: I quote, a world where

‘life, liberty, independence and religious freedom’ are defended, where ‘human rights and justice’ are preserved, and where all join ‘in a common struggle against the savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world.’

“In such a world, there can be prosperity for the impoverished, justice for the weak, and, for the desperate, that most precious of all things, hope.

“It’s easy to look at the many problems of the world today and become despondent.

“Yet, for all our failings there has been, for most of humanity, tremendous progress in my lifetime.

“Therefore, I am enough of an optimist to think that, because we can create a more prosperous, fairer and hopeful world, not only should we, but indeed, I believe we will find the will to do so.

“Thank you very much for your attention.”

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Last Updated ( Sep 26, 2014 at 11:32 AM )
PM highlights Canada’s leadership role on the world stage
Sep 25, 2014 at 12:00 AM

New York City, New York


Prime Minister Stephen Harper today addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, where he focused on Canada’s global leadership to end the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children within a generation.

  • Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada in New York

In his address to the General Assembly, Prime Minister Harper noted the tremendous progress that the world has made to save the lives of the world’s most vulnerable mothers, newborns and children; efforts galvanized by the significant financial commitments and strategic partnerships generated by the Canadian-led 2010 Muskoka Initiative of world leaders, and re-energized at the 2014 Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm's Reach Summit in Toronto.

Prime Minister Harper called on all partners to sustain the momentum generated by the Toronto Summit to ensure that ending preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children under the age of five within a generation is a central priority of the post-2015 development agenda.

Prior to his remarks, the Prime Minister joined co-founders of the platform Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, and Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator, in announcing the “Global Financing Facility For Every Woman Every Child.” The Facility is an important global resource to finance health services for women and children in developing countries and will help ensure that maternal, newborn and child health remains a top priority in the post-2015 agenda.
Also at this event, the Prime Minister, along with Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, emphasized that improving civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems across the developing world is key to ensuring the health and survival of women and children. The Global Financing Facility will also include specific support for CRVS systems in developing countries.

Quick Facts

  • In June 2010, under Prime Minister Harper’s leadership, world leaders launched the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. The Initiative focused on saving the lives of mothers, newborns and children under five in developing countries.
  • From May 28 to 30, 2014, in Toronto, the Prime Minister hosted the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit. At the Summit, Canada committed to support MNCH between 2015-2020 and renewed global momentum to advance MNCH as a global priority beyond 2015.
  • The September 2014 high-level Every Woman Every Child event, hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, seeks to ensure that maternal, newborn and child health will feature prominently in the post-2015 development agenda, through the support of a strong coalition of global partners.
  • Worldwide, more than 100 developing countries lack well-functioning CRVS systems, despite their importance. As a result, many births and deaths are unregistered.
  • This Global Financing Facility is a concrete step to provide the financial infrastructure and capital necessary to secure maternal, newborn and child health on the international agenda.
  • In addition to his primary objective at this year’s United Nations General Assembly – advancing international cooperation on maternal, newborn and child health – the Prime Minister also addressed a range of pressing international issues, including Iraq, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the situation in Ukraine, and climate change.

“Ending preventable maternal and child deaths within a generation is possible, but not without greater political and financial commitments. Canada will continue to champion these issues on the world stage to ensure that they remain at the forefront of the global agenda now and beyond 2015. We call on all partners to increase their efforts to achieve this goal.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper

“Civil Registration and Vital Statistics are the bedrock of accountability for women’s and children’s health. I am pleased to announce Canada’s support for the Global Financing Facility for Every Woman Every Child. This Facility is a concrete step in providing the financial infrastructure and capital that are required for developing countries to strengthen their health systems and to record and track essential data.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper

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