By Mickel Allen
Hon. Portia Simpson Miller and her delegation, which included Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister AJ Nicholson, recently made an official visit to Canada by invitation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper but her stay came to an abrupt, end due to an impending hurricane that was on path to her homeland -- Jamaica.
Mickel Allen is a native of Jamaica, previously employed by the MOE as an English Linguistics and Literature Teacher. She is presently assistant communications coordinator for a diverse organization and a law and society Bachelors candidate. Mickel is an active women’s advocate and volunteers as a counselor and adult educator with Yes We Are Women. She is a supporter and volunteer with COFI Inc. www.coficares.com
The purpose of the trip was to reestablish ties with Canada through the implementation and promotion of greater bilateral trade and investment agreements. To this end the discussion between both prime ministers focused on a myriad of topics spanning mutual foreign policies, which included the increase of economic opportunities, strengthening security and institutions such as CARICOM and reducing trade barriers, all with the goal of fostering lasting relationships between both countries and by extension the Commonwealth.
Harper and Miller pledged to facilitate and maintain closer collaboration in regional and multilateral forums and institutions, further vowed to pursue organizational reform on the basis of freedom, democracy, human rights and legislature. They delved into such matters as the effects of climate change on developing countries such as Jamaica as well as the need for such states to achieve economic independence and prosperity through job creation, agriculture and holistic sustainable growth.
The leaders alluded to the Canadian armed forces and the Jamaica Defence Force, both of which continue to maintain an extensive bilateral collaboration. Reference was also made to projects that both forces engaged in such as jointly building and operating the Caribbean Military Aviation School, the Caribbean Counterterrorism Training Centre and Operation Jaguar in 2011. Mention was also made of their most recent endeavour -- the creation of the Caribbean Military Maritime Training Centre, which delivers defence training to individuals regionally.
“Prime Minister Harper also thanked Prime Minister Simpson Miller for Jamaica's support in relation to the establishment of an Operational Support Hub for the Canadian Forces in Jamaica, aimed at improving Canada's ability to support operations to address security challenges and disaster response in the region.
“Both leaders noted the progress achieved to date on bilateral security cooperation through the Canadian-supported Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program and the Counterterrorism Capacity Building Program.” http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20121029/news/news3.html
As a part of her visit, Portia Simpson Miller accompanied by PM Stephen Harper made an appearance at the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) and joined in celebrating Jamaica’s 50th year of independence, a fact that Jamaica’s PM made mention of several times during various discussions and interviews while visiting, which was on occasion met with mixed opinions.
While giving her address at the JCA, Mrs Simpson Miller spoke emotively and graciously about the ongoing correlation between Canada and Jamaica and extended thanks to the Canadian PM for the continued provision of jobs to thousands of Jamaicans under the various initiatives, particularly the farm work program. Prime Minister Simpson Miller also expressed thanks for the extensive assistance received from Canada in the areas of national security and agriculture.
As news of the impending storm-turned-hurricane reached the PM of Jamaica she immediately opted out of all scheduled engagements, which included a public appearance at Faith Sanctuary located in a predominantly Caribbean community.
Portia Simpson Miller, in an interview with Fitzroy Gordon on G98.7, stated that Hurricane Sandy could not have chosen a more inopportune time to emerge, as Jamaica was in negotiations with the IMF to borrow much needed money. Again a sore note for many who believe her statements are indicative of a suppressed agenda -- whatever that may be.
Notwithstanding, perhaps it was meant to be this way, as Stephen Harper, during a press conference in Ottawa, asserted that “Canada as a member of the executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is aware of Jamaica’s challenges and would use its position to speak in Jamaica’s interest.” -- Mission accomplished …
Lady P is slicker than we know or should I say smart and perhaps both agendas have been achieved in her opinion regardless of the brevity of her trip to a country that Jamaica clearly is “dependent “ on if for no other reason but to sway the decision of the IMF.
The Jamaican prime minister has indicated that she will be inviting Prime Minister Harper to Jamaica and one may assume that trip will be a reality once the IMF approves yet another loan for Jamaica thanks to Canada’s influence. The Jamaican government already has private sector debt that far exceeds the debt ceiling by $300 billion.
“Politricks” and money business is not my line of business but it doesn’t take a “specialist” to realize that as the Jamaican debt load increases so does inflation, and our “dependence to maintain independence.”
No man’s an island, no man stands alone, your loan is their joy and in debt you die alone.