Foreign ministers meeting postponed after Cabinet reshuffle

The inaugural meeting of the Caricom-Canada Foreign Ministers’ Group set for Wednesday has been postponed, following a Cabinet reshuffle in the North American country that saw François-Philippe Champagne reassigned from the foreign ministry on Tuesday.

Just hours after announcing that Caricom Ministers of Foreign Affairs would have talks with Champagne at a virtual meeting of the group, the Caricom Secretariat issued a notice advising of the postponement.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named 71-year-old former astronaut Marc Garneau as the new foreign minister and made Champagne, 50, the new Minister of Innovations, Science and Industry to replace Navdeep Bains who resigned suddenly from politics, citing family reasons.

Canadian media said the main tasks for Garneau, who was the first Canadian in space and served as Transport Minister before Tuesday’s reshuffle, will be establishing relations with the new United States administration and handling a major diplomatic dispute with China.

The Caricom and Canadian Foreign Ministers were to have their inaugural meeting under the co-chairmanship of Champagne and Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship and Chairman of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), Dr Claude Joseph.

Caricom said in a statement issued earlier in the day that the meeting would pay attention to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic; economic recovery and inclusive growth; and climate resilience and sustainability.

“This meeting signals a new momentum in the existing bonds of friendship, as Canada has shown its willingness to re-engage with the region and strengthened its cooperation with Caricom,” the regional grouping said, noting that the invitation to meet had come from the Canadian government.

“This is illustrated by the number of ministerial and high-level engagements that have taken place over the past recent years. In the context of this reset, the establishment of the Caricom-Canada Foreign Ministers’ Group will provide the parties with an institutionalised framework to discuss on a regular basis their shared priorities at the ministerial level.”

The Caricom Secretariat said a new date for the meeting will be communicated in the coming days.

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