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Cablegate: Canadian Policy On Cuba

VZCZCXRO2394
OO RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHGR RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHMT
RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #1566/01 3522155
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 172155Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8880
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0031

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 001566

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CCA (DAVID MCFARLAND)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM ETRD ETTC CU CA
SUBJECT: CANADIAN POLICY ON CUBA

REF: STATE 126578

OTTAWA 00001566 001.3 OF 002


1. (SBU) Based on Embassy's ongoing dialogue with the
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade's
(DFAIT) Latin America and Caribbean officials, Embassy's
assessment is that Canada has consistently worked to
promote the advancement of democracy, good governance, and
human rights in Cuba. Canada shares the U.S. goals of
promoting democracy and human rights in Cuba, while
maintaining its own policy of "principled engagement"
with both the Cuban government and dissident elements.
Canada believes its approach allows it to have a
positive impact on human rights and democracy in Cuba.
Canada maintains a diplomatic presence in Havana and
conducts aid programs worth about C$10 million/year.

2. (SBU) Canada has engaged and intervened on
behalf of human rights and the advancement of
democratization in Cuba a number of times over the past six
months:

-- Canadian and Cuban officials met regularly to discuss
the harsh treatment of dissidents. Conversations were
reportedly "firm and frank;"

-- the Canadian Embassy sponsors Canadian Studies Centers
in several locations in Cuba to inform the general populace
about life in a democratic country with a market-based
economy. A wide range of literature on human rights and
democracy is available in these centers. The Canadian
government also regularly sends speakers to these venues, as
well as funds economics professors teaching modern economic
theory at the University of Havana;

-- the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL), a
Canadian government-funded think tank, maintains an active
series of programs on Cuba that focus on support for
dissidents and democratization. It has a comprehensive
program for documenting all Cuban government actions
against dissidents, supports an active dialogue on planning
for the post-Castro area, and assists civil society programs
on
human rights and democracy;

4. (SBU) High-level diplomatic visits between Cuba and
Canada over the past six months have included:

- Canadian Assistant Deputy Minister (Americas) of
Foreign Affairs Alexandra Bugailiskis represented Canada
at the Havana International Trade Fair on November 3;

- Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade Raul de la Nuez
visited Canada on November 28, and met with Canadian
Minister of International Trade Stockwell Day and Minister
of Agriculture and Agri-Food Gerry Ritz; and,

- Canadian Assistant Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
for Global Issues Keith Christie visited Cuba on December 1.

5. (SBU) According to DFAIT, Canada offered
over C$1 million (approximately USD 830,000) in
humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people in the wake of
Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The aid went through
the Red Cross and other NGOs. The government is still
considering providing additional aid to the Cuban people
through the United Nations.

6. (SBU) DFAIT confirmed that Canadian businesses
participated
in the November 3 Havana Trade, but declined to disclose the
names of the companies. Media reports have indicated Canada
remains Cuba's third largest trade partner, with a 9.4%
growth
in trade over 2007. Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade de la
Nuez
said publicly that trade between Canada and Cuba amounted to
USD $1.4 billion so far in 2008. The media also reported
that
the Canadian Wheat Board and Cuba's Alimport signed an
agreement
at the Havana Trade Fair for the sale of 150,000 tons of
Canadian
wheat to Cuba. Canada is also one of the largest foreign
Qwheat to Cuba. Canada is also one of the largest foreign
investors
in Cuba. Canadian natural resources company Sherritt
International,
the largest and most established Canadian firm in Cuba,
engages in

OTTAWA 00001566 002.3 OF 002


mining, oil, and gas production as well as electricity
generation, and
soybean processing. Canadian companies operate in a variety
of
sectors of the Cuban economy, including tourism,
construction,
agriculture, bio-technology, and mining. Canadian exports to
Cuba
in 2007 were estimated at C$ 563 million (USD 524 million).
Main
exports are machinery, electronic equipment, motor vehicles,
as
well as copper, iron, and steel products. Canadian imports
from
Cuba were worth about C$1.06 billion (USD 988 million) in
2007.
Primary imports are tobacco, books and newspapers, and
seafood.
Canadians represent close to one third of Cuba's foreign
tourists.

7. (SBU) Canada has no bilateral trade agreements with
Cuba. According to DFAIT, Canada and Cuba are set to begin
negotiations on a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement
(a bilateral investment treaty) in 2009. During his April
visit to Cuba, Canadian Agriculture Minister Ritz and his
Cuban counterpart renewed an existing MOU on technical
cooperation in
agriculture.

8. (U) Canada does not have any formal exchange programs
specific to Cuba. The Canadian government maintains a
Canada-Caribbean Community Leadership Scholarship Program
offering university students scholarships for short-term
research exchanges, for which students from across the
Caribbean -- including Cuba -- are eligible to apply. In
addition, many exchanges occur informally between
organizations such as high school sports teams and cultural
groups.

Visit Canada,s Economy and Environment Forum at
http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/can ada

WILKINS

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