Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada at the close of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Ottawa, Ontario
30 October 2011

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today made the following remarks at the close of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting:

“Good afternoon. I want to begin by thanking the Government of Australia for the warm welcome they gave us and for graciously hosting this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

“Canada was here to encourage the Commonwealth to refocus on core values of democracy and human rights and to support key reforms.  We are pleased that progress has been made.  The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group report was adopted. This will strengthen the Commonwealth’s ability to take early action in defence of core values such as human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

“Canada has also rejoined the Ministerial Action Group.  We intend to use our membership to be staunch defenders of democratic values.  The summit also considered the report of the Eminent Persons Group.  Many of their recommendations have been accepted by Leaders, and most others will be moved forward by Ministers in the months ahead.  We look forward to Commonwealth foreign ministers successfully concluding their work on the Charter in particular.

“I would like to especially recognize and thank Senator Hugh Segal for his tremendous contribution to the work of the Eminent Persons Group.  Senator Segal championed the core values Canadians believe in, values that must remain at the heart of the Commonwealth if it is to remain relevant.

“A consensus based organization like the Commonwealth does not always move as quickly as we would like, but overall, progress has been made.  We are particularly pleased that the Leaders agreed to recognize religious freedom as essential to the development of free and democratic societies.”