Ottawa news: Toomas Hendrik Ilves visits Canada’s capital (1)
Archived Articles 06 Jun 2008 Peeter BushEWR
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As can be seen from the video presentations in the online edition of Eesti Elu, President Ilves’ visit to Ottawa on May 28 and 29th was quite an event.

Wednesday night was Baltic Evening on Parliament Hill; Thursday morning was wreath laying at the Cenotaph and Thursday afternoon was a reception for the local Estonian communities in Ottawa, Montreal and Kingston at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club.

This was the 28th Baltic Evening arranged by The Baltic Federation in Canada which consists of Estonian Central Council in Canada, Latvian National Federation in Canada and the Lithuanian Canadian Community. The Parliamentary Sponsoring Committee consisted of Peter Van Loan MP and Senator Raynell Andreychuk. President Ilves in his speech noted how Estonia had come a long ways since those tough early days of regained independence when it was poor. Estonia is now a “have” country, having recently surpassed Portugal in GNP per capita. It has even become a destination of choice for illegal immigrants.

The crowd was enthusiastic and in good spirits. The speeches were generally not overly long and boring. The food, drink and especially the music provided by Armas Maiste and Jan Jarvlepp Trio were of a high caliber. President Ilves’ speech was interesting and informative. All in all it was a very enjoyable evening.

Whether it was successful in conveying the message to non-Balts is debatable. I saw many unused nametags of diplomats and parliamentarians on the reception table. We are a small community and we have to work hard at making our voice heard and count.

The organizers deserve thanks for their efforts keeping Canadian parliamentarians aware of the current situation in the Baltic States. This is particularly important since, notwithstanding NATO and EU membership, the great neighbor to the east seems to have become increasingly belligerent. Last year’s “cyber-attacks” and this May’s Red Square victory parade with its heavy weapons display speak for themselves. It is far too easy for us here to become lulled into complacency given the almost “poster child” recent success stories of the Baltic States.

As usual, the well-attended reception at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, which has become the favorite locale for our embassy to hold its events, was a resounding success thanks to the efforts of Käti Kangro-Hallik and Rasmus Lumi.

President Ilves gave another great speech, this time in Estonian and concluded by saying that he would be very pleased if we all came home to Estonia.
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