OTTAWA - Peter Van Loan, Member of Parliament for York-Simcoe and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs will travel to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia July 13th-July 21st on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The visit will promote Canada's bilateral relations with these countries and to discuss mutual interests in the promotion of democracy, freedom, human rights and good governance.
Van Loan's background is Estonian. His mother and grandparents emigrated to Canada, after being forced to flee the Soviet Communist occupation. (Many in the family that did not flee died in Siberian concentration camps or otherwise at the hands of the Communists).
The family chose Canada as their destination, seeking a land of freedom, hope and opportunity.To this day Canada is working hard to promote these values abroad.
Canada has significant populations from all four of the countries Van Loan will visit, who share similar émigré experiences.
A highlight will be a meeting with Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who spent much of her life in Canada, before returning to Latvia after independence was restored. The President was a friend of Van Loan's mother, when they studied psychology together at the University of Toronto.
"This Region is re-emerging and becoming increasingly influential throughout Europe, and the world. The Baltics and Poland share our values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and rule of law. Having recently lost, and then regained their freedom, they take international commitments to advancing democracy very seriously," said Van Loan..
All four countries all have forces in Afghanistan today.
"This visit offers Canada an opportunity to discuss with government officials and civil society representatives future goals and opportunities for cooperation" said Van Loan.
Peter Van Loan visits his Baltic homeland (7)