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Examining Canada’s Latin American relationships Add to ...

BRAZIL

How is the relationship?

Improving, but still not close. Brazil is Canada’s 10th-largest trading partner. Two-way trade reached $5.9-billion last year.

What are the sore points?

After years of tension over issues such as state aid to aircraft makers and a ban on Brazilian beef, the two countries are still bristling. Brazil harbours a belief that Canada has not been respectful enough.

What’s in it for Canada?

Brazil is poised to become an economic powerhouse, and represents huge opportunities for Canadian investment. A closer relationship would also mean that Canada could benefit from Brazil’s growing regional and international political influence.

When was the last visit by a Canadian prime minister?

Paul Martin, in 2004. Fernando Henrique Cardoso is the last Brazilian president to visit Canada, in 1997.

How could Stephen Harper impress his hosts over dinner?

By talking about soccer.

What should he not do?

Speak Spanish. Brazilians speak Portuguese.

COLOMBIA

How is the relationship?

Cordial. Canada and Colombia signed a bilateral trade agreement in 2008; it comes into force on Aug. 15. In 2009, Canada announced it would add Colombia to its list of preferred countries to receive foreign aid.

What are the sore points?

The human-rights situation in Colombia is still dire because of its continuing 45-year-long armed conflict between leftist guerillas and right-wing paramilitaries. Canada and Colombia have signed an agreement that requires them to produce annual reports on the impacts of the free trade agreement on human rights in both countries. It comes into force on Aug. 15.

What’s in it for Canada?

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is the only leader in the area with a right-of-centre, pro-business agenda. The country’s economy is growing and represents significant investment opportunities for Canada.

When was the last visit by a Canadian prime minister?

Stephen Harper, in July, 2007. Former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe visited Canada in June, 2009, and again in June, 2010 for a special session of the G8 Summit.

How could Stephen Harper impress his hosts over dinner?

By discussing Colombia’s rich cultural heritage, especially the magical realism of novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

What should he not do?

Leaving right after dinner might suggest he was only there for the free meal.

COSTA RICA

How is the relationship?

Very good. Canada and Costa Rica signed a free-trade relationship in 2002. About 10,000 Canadians live in Costa Rica and more than 100,000 visit every year.

What are the sore points?

None worth mentioning.

What’s in it for Canada?

Costa Rica is Central America’s longest-running stable democracy and was the first to get involved in peace-making efforts after the coup in Honduras in 2009. Canada and Costa Rica share strong democratic and human-rights values. A visit is a chance to build the relationship.

When was the last visit by a Canadian prime minister?

Jean Chrétien visited in 1995.

How could Stephen Harper impress his hosts over dinner?

By asking how Costa Rica has managed to maintain its democratic values and survive without an army.

What should he not do?

He should not get drunk or wear shorts off the beach.

HONDURAS

How is the relationship?

Canada does not have an embassy in Honduras. However, it played a key role in reaching a peaceful negotiated agreement after the coup there in June, 2009, and helped fund the postcoup Honduras Commission on Truth and Reconciliation.

What are the sore points?

Like much of the region, Honduras is plagued by gang- and drug-related violence.

What’s in it for Canada?

Canada can promote its own democratic values by helping stabilize Central America. President Porfirio Lobo is making efforts to calm political tensions and fight crime. A visit from Mr. Harper will help boost his new government’s credibility both at home and among Honduras’ neighbours.

When was the last visit by a Canadian Prime Minister?

How could Stephen Harper impress his hosts over dinner?

By showing an appreciation for Mayan culture, and asking about the Copan Ruins.

What should he not do?

Slink into a meeting late without saying hello to everyone in the room.

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