PM Gonsalves’ visit to Canada ends years of speculation
Front Page
October 20, 2023

PM Gonsalves’ visit to Canada ends years of speculation

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is on his way home, having this week attended the Canada-CARICOM Summit in Ottawa, Canada. His trip put to rest, years of speculation that he could not visit Canada because of allegations that had been made against him by a Canadian.

The Summit, which took place from October 17 to 19 was held on Canadian soil for the first time, and was co-chaired by Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica, and current Chairman of Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted leaders from CARICOM as the regional bloc observes the 50th year since its formation on August 1, 1973 with the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas.

Gonsalves last visited Canada more than 15 years ago and it had been said by some political opponents that he had been afraid to travel to that country because of allegations made against him in 2008 by a female Canadian lawyer. It had been speculated that she would use her knowledge of the Canadian legal system to make a visit to that country uncomfortable for Gonsalves.

Earlier this week, Opposition Leader and President of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Dr Godwin Friday commented during a town hall meeting in Toronto, Canada that it would be an insult and a dereliction of duty if the Prime Minister did not attend the Summit.

“So my understanding is that all the CARICOM leaders are invited and that all of them are going to attend. Well, all of them are expected to attend,” Friday told the gathering, a comment that was followed by laughter from the audience.

Several radio talk show hosts and political activists here also took up the topic and said the odds were against the Prime Minister attending the Summit.

Gonsalves however told SEARCHLIGHT this week that “there has never been any legal or factual basis why I should not go to Canada.”

His attendance at the Summit however caught many persons off guard, as the Prime Minister usually informs the nation prior to leaving the country on Government business.

On Wednesday, Gonsalves posted on his Facebook page, photographs taken with Prime Minister Trudeau at the Summit.

“In an uncertain world, it is by working together as friends and partners that we will build economies that work for the middle class, keep our air and water clean, and keep people safe. Over the last two days, as Canada has hosted Caribbean leaders for this Summit, we have done just that. I’m looking forward to everything we can do next to grow and deepen our longstanding partnership,” Trudeau said in a release posted on his official website.

The Canada-CARICOM Summit is seen as opportunity to highlight Canada’s strong ties with the Caribbean, provide an opportunity for the leaders to strengthen cooperation and to chart a better future for people in both regions.