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Official Visits to the Philippines and Fiji


While in Manila, Philippines from July 7 - 10, 2002, David Kilgour, Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), accompanied by Eleni Bakopanis, M.P. for Ahuntsic and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, delivered a keynote address at a regional seminar on small arms and light weapons hosted by Canada and the Philippines.

Minister Kilgour addressed the urgent need for action in the global fight against small arms and light weapons. An estimated 500,000 people around the world are killed by them every year, more than 80% of whom are women and children.  He discussed various means for reducing supply and demand for smaller weapons and emphasized the need for a cohesive 'Made in Southeast Asia' approach to dealing with weapons proliferation. Minister Kilgour also underscored the importance of the roles played by civil society and the NGO community.

As part of the seminar, Minister Kilgour attended a destruction ceremony at which approximately 1000 small weapons were destroyed by the Philippine National Police.

The delegation visited a development project co-sponsored by Edmonton-based and Philippino Catholic charities in Payatas, outside of Manila.

The visit concluded withan annoucement by Vice-President Guingona that he will be attending Klondike Days in Edmonton on July 17 at which the Philippines is this year's featured country.

While in the Republic of Fiji on July 12 and 13, 2002, David Kilgour, Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), accompanied by Eleni Bakopanis, M.P. for Ahuntsic and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, met with:

         Hon. Kaliopate Tavola, Minister for Foreign Affairs & External Trade;

         Hon. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Speaker of the House of Representatives;

         Mr. Noel Levi, Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat;

         Mr. Prem Singh, Leader of the Opposition;

         Representatives of the Citizens Constitutional Forum;

         Recipients of Canadian development assistance; and

         Representatives of civil society and NGOs, academics, businesspeople, and Canadians living in the region.

Issues discussed included:

         constitutional affairs, the attempted coup in 2000, and Fiji's recent suspension then reinstatement in the Councils of the Commonwealth;

         minority rights;

         land reform;

         poverty prevention and alleviation; and

         regional security, co-operation and economic growth.

Minister Kilgour gained a deeper understanding of national and regional problems and opportunities. Throughout the visit, he stressed the importance of building the strength of and faith in public institutions.  Minister Kilgour noted this is accomplished through increased government transparency, a strong judiciary, good governance, respect for the human rights of all people, free media and free and fair elections.

Minister Kilgour received feedback on Canada's modest but effective development assistance programs in the region and announced the granting of Cdn $500,000 in CIDA funding for an NGO strengthening program in the region.

He also expressed his regret over not being able to attend the Pacific Islands Forum to be held in Fiji in August, 2002, discussed Canada's interests in and objectives for the Forum with its Secretary General, and extended Canada's wishes for the Forum's success.

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