Canadian MPs and Senators have joined Cabinet Secretary for Culture Fiona Hyslop to launch a Friendship Group to further strengthen the links between Canada and Scotland.
Ms Hyslop launched the Canada-Scotland Friendship Group at a St Andrew’s Day reception hosted by the Speaker of the Senate, The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, in the Canadian Parliament.
The Friendship Group, founded by Dr Kirsty Duncan MP, a long time supporter of Scotland, will formally meet for the first time in early December at which a Chair and Vice-Chair will be sworn in.
Speaking from Ottawa, Ms Hyslop said:
“Every MP and Senator who has joined the new Group shares an affinity with our great nation and I welcome them as Friends of Scotland. The establishment of this Group marks an exciting new chapter in Scotland’s relationship with Canada and will develop closer links between our two Parliaments for the mutual benefit of both countries.
“Canada is one of Scotland’s most valuable international markets. Last year we welcomed over 100,000 Canadians to Scotland, generating £65 million for our economy. As outlined in the Scottish Government’s Canada Plan – published one year ago today – we must focus on ensuring Scotland remains a top destination for international travellers and investors.
“Stronger links are essential to doing that. I’m sure the Friendship Group’s active supporters will be worthy ambassadors for Scotland and their commitment to promoting our country is welcome.
“For generations Scots have ventured to Canada and played their part in making it the great nation it is today. With five million Canadians proudly claiming Scottish ancestry, there is no better time than St Andrew’s Day – our national day – to celebrate the enduring bonds of kinship and friendship between our two countries and to forge new relationships. Promoting Scotland internationally as a great place to visit and invest is a top priority of this Government and key to our economic prosperity.”
Dr Kirsty Duncan MP added:
“Canada shares cherished ties with Scotland. Scottish settlers carved Nova Scotia from harsh northern lands, where they built farms and schools, towns and cities, and where they endured and thrived. Scots led their communities, which they gave familiar names like Dunedin, Perth, Hamilton and St. Andrews; for example, Glasgow-born Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, united Canada with his national vision and the construction of the world’s longest railway.
“Today, modern Canada and modern Scotland face unprecedented economic, environmental and social challenges. We share common strengths – world-class education systems, internationally-recognized research communities, highly-skilled workforces, and thriving creative industries, which we should continue to develop. It is my hope that this Friendship Group will allow our two countries to build on our shared values and cultural heritage.”
Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, MSP said:
“Scotland and Canada are inextricably linked through our shared history and we Scots are extremely proud of the role we have played in Canada’s development. It is that background which makes the formation of this Friendship Group such a significant feature for our modern-day relationship.
“I very much hope that beyond this St Andrew’s Day event, we will all embrace the intention of the group and find new ways, through our role as parliamentarians, to best work together in the interests of Canada and Scotland. I can certainly offer you the full assistance of the Scottish Parliament.”
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop is undertaking a series of business, tourism, political and cultural engagements during her visit to Toronto, Ottawa and Washington DC from November 28 to December 3, 2011 to strengthen business, economic and cultural links, and promote a dynamic and creative Scotland as a great place to visit and invest.
The Scottish Government’s Canada and USA Plans make it clear that these are priority countries for engagement. The Plans build on the strength of the existing relationship between Scotland and both countries, aim to further strengthen the important historical, cultural and economic links between our countries, to ensure that Scotland maximises the economic opportunities that both markets have to offer for the future.
The new St Andrew’s Day app is available free of charge in the Apple App store and Android Market. It includes a searchable database of St Andrew’s Day events in Scotland, information about events taking place across the rest of the world, an animated history of St Andrew and a guide for people hosting their own celebrations.