United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Ottawa, Canada, on Wednesday, 12 May, in the morning, for his first official visit to the country.
The Secretary-General first met Michaëlle Jean, the Governor-General of Canada, at her residence, Government House. They discussed the situation in Haiti, the Millennium Development Goals, including maternal and child health, women’s empowerment, as well as the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Secretary-General then participated in a discussion with representatives of Canadian civil society on “Urgent Global Challenges”. The event was organized by the United Nations Association in Canada. On climate change, he urged Canada to comply with the targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol and also said the country could join other industrialized nations in contributing new funding to the fight against climate change. The Secretary-General also stressed the need to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. “In a world of such remarkable know-how and wealth, it should be unacceptable for mothers to lose their lives while giving birth, unacceptable for so many millions of people to never have a proper chance at an education, a decent job or better standards of living,” he said. The Secretary-General said Canada could play a vital leadership role on all these issues, as it gets ready to host the G-8 and G-20 summits in June. (See Press Release SG/SM/12885)
After a working luncheon hosted by the Minister of International Cooperation, Beverley J. Oda, and the Minister of Finance, James Michael Flaherty, the Secretary-General headed to Parliament Hill. He first met with the leader of the opposition, Michael Ignatieff, with whom he discussed climate change, food security, maternal and children’s health, responsibility to protect and Afghanistan. The Secretary-General then heard the Senators’ statements in the Senate Chamber and the question period in the House of Commons, and was recognized by both Chambers of Parliament.
Later, the Secretary-General held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in which they discussed the upcoming G-8 and G-20 summits, the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, the situation in Haiti and Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan. “The upcoming G-8 and G-20 summit meetings here in Canada provide an opportunity to deliver for the world’s poor and most vulnerable people,” the Secretary-General said later at a press encounter. He urged Canada to provide a new resolve to meet previous pledges to the poor.
The Secretary-General attended a reception in his honour, hosted by the Speaker of the Senate, Mr. Noël Kinsella, before returning to New York in the early evening.