Hague set to announce joint UK-Canada embassy plans
Foreign Secretary William Hague is set to announce a new planned co-operation for establishing joint British-Canadian diplomatic missions, and sharing embassy offices abroad when he meets his Canadian counterpart, John Baird, in Ottawa.
This move was being described by a senior Canadian government official as “out-of-the-box thinking that modern diplomacy requires”.Ahead of the meeting, Hague said: “As the Prime Minister said when addressing the Canadian parliament last year: ‘We are two nations, but under one Queen and united by one set of values.’”
The agreement, which Australia and New Zealand may join eventually, involves “co-locating” embassies or high commissions and sharing consular services in which one has a diplomatic presence and the other does not, in an effort to extend each country’s diplomatic reach while cutting costs.
Hague says it will give Britain “a bigger reach abroad for less cost”. The aim is to expand the countries’ diplomatic presence in places where either London or Ottawa does not already have an embassy.
He added: “So it is natural that we look to link up our embassies with Canada’s in places where that suits both countries. It will give us a bigger reach abroad for our businesses and people for less cost.”
CBC learned that the New Democratic Party (NDP) foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar is raising questions about the deal and whether the government’s cost-cutting measures will compromise Canada’s independence and its foreign policy.
“I think it has a lot to do with the fact that this government is cutting severely on diplomacy,” Dewar said. “And its priorities on diplomacy and multilateral institutions have waned.”
Canada has already been providing services to Australia in 26 locations around the world and vice-versa for years.