Russian-Canadian relations

 

Russian-Canadian relations have a long and interesting history, but until recently they faced an uneasy period because of the 2014 decision by the Conservative Harper administration to put the political dialogue on hold.

After the victory in October Parliament Elections of 2015 the new Liberal Government headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that it will resume dialogue with Russia.

The diplomatic relations between Russian Federation and Canada were officially established on 25 December, 1991.

Bilateral ties have a substantial legal base, including a political Treaty on accord and cooperation of June 19, 1992, as well as a number of economic agreements (on bilateral trade, economic cooperation, promotion and mutual protection of investments, avoiding double taxation, etc.) and on cooperation in a variety of specific fields (The Arctic and the North, air traffic, mutual legal assistance on criminal matters, etc.).

High level meetings at the highest level have great significance for the bilateral  political dialogue. Our leaders met on the margins of the G8 summits in Sea Island (USA, 2004), Gleneagles (Great Britain, 2005), Heiligendamm (Germany, 2007), Toyako (Japan, 2008). Then President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev visited Canada in June 2010 to take part in G8 and G20 Summits in Muskoka and Toronto. A bilateral meeting between Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Stephen Harper took place in May 2011 during the G8 Summit in Deauville (France). The leaders had shorter meetings on the margins of APEC summits in Sydney (Australia, 2007), Singapore (2008), Honolulu (USA, 2011), Bali island (Indonesia, 2013). President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin hosted Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper for a full bilateral meeting during the APEC Summit in Vladivostok (Russia, 2012).

In November 2015 on the margins of G20 Summit in Antalya (Turkey) on the initiative of the Canadian side, Vladimir Putin met for the first time with the newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In 2003 the former Canadian Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson visited Russia. Her participation in the celebrations on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), which took place in Moscow on May 9, 2005, became a landmark in bilateral relations.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs always maintained regular contacts. The first official visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to Canada took place in 1997, along with three working visits (1999, 2000, 2006). Lawrence Cannon visited Russia with a working visit in 2010. Sergei Lavrov and his then counterpart John Baird met on the margins of the G20 Summit in St.Petersburg in 2013. The latest meeting between Sergei Lavrov and Foreign Minister Stephane Dion took place on July 25, 2016 at the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Until recently interparliamentary cooperation was developing in a positive way. A number of bilateral meetings between parliament authorities of Russia and Canada took place in the period between 1998 and 2010, a Canada – Russia Parliamentary Group was created within the frames of the Parliament of Canada which originally comprise MP’s, representing all party caucuses, Russia – Canada Parliamentary Cooperation groups were established in the Council of Federation and the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation (their work is postponed at the moment). On the back of the current lack of direct contacts, the cooperation continues within multilateral fora, including Asian-Pacific Parliament Forum (its latest meeting took place in January 2016 in Vancouver).

The Russia – Canada mil-to-mil contacts were progressively developing. Our countries have signed interdepartmental Memorandum on military cooperation of June 21, 1994. The first official visit to Canada by the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation took place in 2003. The Minister of national Defense of Canada paid an official visit to Russia. In 2011 the Chief of Staff of the National Defense of Canada came to Moscow, while Air Force units of Russia, Canada and the US took part in trilateral counterterrorist exercise «Vigilant Eagle».

The contacts between Russian regions and Canadian provinces and territories maintain their significance at present time. The Canadian provinces of Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta have been particularly active, just as Moscow, St.Petersburg, the Republics of Tatarstan and Sakha (Yakutia), territories of Krasnoyarsk and Primorye, Moscow and Murmansk regions from the Russian side.