Estonian Central Council in Canada – LL
Organized by the Lithuanian Canadian Community, as the rotating chair of the Baltic Federation in Canada, the Baltic Evening confirmed the viability of continuing the long-standing tradition. The first Baltic Evening in 1973, was organized by the Estonian Central Council in Canada, primarily as a lobbying venue to present Arved Viirlaid’s “Graves Without Crosses” to all M.P.s and Senators. In order to have a greater political impact, the Estonians invited the central Latvian and Lithuanian organizations to join them.
The Baltic Evening participants have heard nearly all Canadian foreign ministers as keynote speakers, two Canadian Governors General, two Baltic presidents and numerous leading politicians from both sides of the Atlantic.
All Baltic Evenings create their own interesting vignettes. Paul Läänemets, a recent university graduate and special assistant to Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, presented the minister’s greetings in the latter’s absence. Läänemets was surely the youngest governmental official ever to address the Baltic Evening. Van Loan, a co-sponsor of the Evening was in Europe with the Prime Minister at the Canada-EU summit, discussing the complications of eventually achieving a bilateral free-trade agreement with the EU.
Läänemets presented the greetings with the requisite poise demanded of the role. He wasn’t rattled with his seating placement - between two prominent Liberals, Senator David Smith and Baltic evening co-sponsor, Bob Rae, Liberal foreign affairs critic.
The Lithuanian Canadian Community organized the Baltic Evening as a forum for their foreign minister Audronis Ažubalis, in Canada for an official visit. Ažubalis, as key-note speaker emphasized the importance of close trans-Atlantic ties, not only in ensuring a continuing peaceful co-existence but also mutually beneficial economic environment.
All of the speakers, Jason Kenney, representing the Prime Minister, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Margers Krams, Ambassador of Latvia, Riho Kruuv, Estonian chargé d’affaires, Bob Rae, and Senator Raynell Andreychuk focused on Canadian-Baltic relations, the vibrancy of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian communities in Canada and their close co-operation, Canada’s steadfast refusal to compromise on the issue of the non-recognition of the Soviet annexation of the Baltics and other aspects of Canada’s role as a supporter of Baltic aspirations in the future.
Joanne Kuras, the current president of the Baltic Federation in Canada acted as the host and master of ceremonies for the evening. Requested to lead the singing of O Canada, Avo Kittask’s delivery prompted Jason Kenney to state why the documentary “The Singing Revolution” has to be taken at face value – Estonian do sing and probably can sing themselves to victory.
Baltic Evening, a diplomatic success; Paul Läänemets fills in for minister