Russian-Canadian Relations Today
The diplomatic relations between Canada and the new Russia were officially established on 25 December, 1991.
The ties with Canada rest upon 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 fields (the Arctic and North, air traffic, mutual legal assistance in criminal cases, etc.). There is a valid Agreement on cooperation between Russia’s constituent entities and Canada’s provinces and territories.
The political dialog is in progress. Our leaders met during the G8 Summits in Sea Island (the USA, June 2004), Gleneagles (Great Britain, July 2005), Saint-Petersburg (Russia, July 2006), Heiligendamm (Germany, July 2007). In July 2008 there was the first meeting between President-elect of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the margins of the G8 Summit in Japan. Dmitry Medvedev visited Canada in June 2010 to take part in G8 and G20 Summits. A bilateral meeting between the two leaders took place in May 2011 during the G8 Summit in Deauville (France).
Both leaders also had bilateral meetings during APEC Summits in Sidney (Australia, September 2007) and in Singapore (November 2009).
The former Canadian Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson visited Russia on September 23-October 1, 2003. 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.
Russia and Canada closely interact within the framework of the UN, G8, G20, APEC, OSCE and other international global and regional fora on a number of key international issues, including strategic stability and security, settlement of regional conflicts, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Our countries cooperate actively in seeking adequate joint response to the new global threats and challenges, such as international terrorism. On October 12, 2004 the Joint Statement by the President of Russia and the Prime Minister of Canada on Cooperation in the Struggle against Terrorism was issued during the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow. 2010 saw an exchange of visits between Russia's Sercretary of the Security Council Nikolay Patrushev and then National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada M.-L.Morin.
One of the important bilateral security undertakings is our cooperation within the framework of the Global Partnership (GP) against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, which was launched in Canada at the G8 Kananaskis Summit. The above collaboration between our two countries has already led to significant progress in all GP priority areas: destruction of chemical weapons, dismantlement of decommissioned nuclear submarines, nuclear & radiological security, and redirection of former weapons scientists. Extremely high reliability and zeal of the Canadian partners is widely acknowledged by their Russian counterparts.
Our two countries actively cooperate within the tri-national (Canada-Russia-USA) Arctic SAREX (Air Sea Search and Rescue Exercise in the Arctic) process, which through continuous sharing of expertise on SAR procedures and capabilities has increased both civil and military interoperability between the three Arctic nations. 12 trilateral exercises in the Arctic have been hosted by Canada, Russia and the United States respectively since 1993.
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs maintain regular contacts. They tend to check with each other’s steps at every convenience: whether it is the UN General Assembly sessions, G8 or APEC ministerial meetings. In September 2004 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada paid a working visit to Russia. March 2006 saw the working visit to Canada of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, who held talks with the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada. The Foreign Ministers of Russia and Canada had two bilateral meetings in 2009: in April on the margins of Arctic Council biennial ministerial meeting in Norway and in September at the UN General Assembly. Minister Lavrov also met with his counterpart Lawrence Cannon during the ministerial meeting of Five Arctic Coastal States in Canada in March 2010. On the margins of 2011 G8 Summit in France Sergey Lavrov had his first meeting with the new Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. Regular meetings allow the parties to discuss the present state of both bilateral relations, and urgent international issues and confirm the mutual interest in developing political dialogue, trade and economic partnership, relations in the humanitarian and academic sphere, as well as Arctic and Northern cooperation.
A number of other bilateral consultation mechanisms was established during the recent years. Bilateral interministerial consultations on strategic stability, counter-terrorism cooperation and regional issues are among them. Such meetings provide an opportunity for both sides to discuss different aspects of cooperation on a wide range of issues. Yet another round of strategic stability consultations (headed by the two G8 Political Directors) took place in Ottawa in May 2011. Canada-Russia counter-terrorism consultations were held consequently in May 2003 (Moscow), in October 2004 (Ottawa) and in November 2005 (Moscow). In May 2009 Canadian-Russian bilateral consultations on new challenges and threats took place in Ottawa. March 2011 saw the latest round of Canada-Russia consultations on Latin America and the Caribbean. Canada-Russia policy-planning consultations took place in Moscow in February 2011. Interdepartmental consultations on border security between our countries are held regularly.
The Russia-Canada mil-to-mil contacts are progressively developing. The first official visit to Canada by the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation took place in October 2003. In September 2005, the Minister of National Defence of Canada held talks in Moscow with the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, Russian Foreign Minister and Secretary of the Security Council. In May 2006, a delegation of "Rosoboronexport" (the Russian state company in charge of international arms sales) arrived in Canada to review the prospects for the bilateral military-technical cooperation. In August, 2011 Russian, Canadian and US Air Forces conducted their second cooperative air exercise «Vigilant Eagle», joint effort to combat terrorism aboard civilian jets. Russia and Canada also successfully interact in the framework of the Treaty on Open Skies.
The parliamentary component of the Russian-Canadian cooperation is developing dynamically. A delegation of the State Duma headed by its Chairman visited Canada in 2001. The Speaker of Canadian Senate at the head of a parliamentary delegation paid an official visit to Russia in 2003. Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada Peter Milliken was on an official visit in Moscow in October 2005. In November 2005, a delegation of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of Russia headed by its Chairman Sergey Mironov paid an official visit to Canada. In November 2007, Noel Kinsella, the Speaker of the Senate of Canada and the head of a parliamentary delegation, was on a reciprocal visit.
Deputy Chairmen of the State Duma and the Council of Federation visited Ottawa in September 2010 for G8/G20 Speakers meetings respectively. The success was complete with a visit by Vladimir Svinarev, Secretary General of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of Russia in November the same year.
Back in October 1998 a Canada-Russia Parliamentary Association was created in the Parliament of Canada which originally comprised MPs representing all party caucuses. It is co-chaired by the Hon.Senator Paul J.Massicotte. Similarly, in 2007 a Russia-Canada Parliamentary Cooperation Group was established in the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
After the launch of Global Partnership at the G8 Kananaskis Summit in 2002 Canada pledged 1 billion Canadian dollars during ten years (100 million dollars annually) for cooperation projects with Russia. The relevant bilateral intergovernmental Agreement on cooperation in the field of destruction of chemical weapons, disposal of decommissioned nuclear submarines and nuclear and radiological security was signed in 2004 at the G8 Sea Island Summit.
The cooperation is ongoing between the Supreme, Constitutional and Supreme Commercial Courts based on the Memorandum on Agreement with the Office of Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada. In March 2004, the Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Russia visited Canada. Anton Ivanov, the Chairman of the Supreme Commercial Court of Russia, was on a visit to Canada in October 2008.
Cooperation between auditing bodies is also developing. Auditor General of Canada Sheila Fraser paid a visit to Moscow in March 2006, and the head of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation Sergey Stepashin came to Canada with a reciprocal visit two years later.
Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Kozak’s visit to Vancouver on February 6-8, 2009 was of significant importance for discussing issues of preparing Vancouver and Sochi for 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics respectively. The discussion in this field was continued during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver at special meetings between Dmitry Kozak and Minister of Sports, Tourism and Youth Policy of Russia Vitaly Mutko with Canadian governmental officials and business community.
The cooperation between Russian regions and Canadian provinces and territories is rapidly developing in such areas like agriculture, infrastructure and Northern Development, oil and gas industry. The Canadian provinces of Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta have been particularly active recently, just as Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Republics of Tatarstan and Sakha (Yakutia), territories of Krasnoyarsk and Primorye and Murmansk region from the Russian side.
Documents on cooperation between the Krasnodar Territory and British Columbia, the cities of Sochi and Vancouver were signed end February 2010 in Vancouver.
December 2009 saw the first ever visit by the Prime Minister of Quebec to Russia. A delegation of Quebec officials and business people headed by Jean Charest visited Moscow and St. Petersburg which resulted in the signature of several documents on cooperation.