I have just wrapped up a rich and rewarding visit to Tunis, Tunisia and Cairo, Egypt as a delegate of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association. Our purpose for going was to understand the socio-political and economic situations today, six years since Arab Spring uprisings in the two countries. They are in the early stages of developing democracy in a very challenged part of the world, and it is certainly in Canadians’ interest to see them succeed! In which ways can Canada best help support the strengthening of the fundamentals of democracy in these two important allies? How can Canadian parliamentarians , drawing from our experience from 150 years of Canadian democracy support North African parliamentarians in the first years of their new parliamentary experience? Hosted by the Canadian Ambassadors to Tunisia and Egypt, our delegation undertook an intense round of meetings to explore these questions. What a great experience! We met with legislators and Committee Chairs, NGOs, human rights groups, faith leaders, journalists, and ordinary citizens in meeting rooms and out on development project sites. Ranging from a meeting with Cairo university students to one with His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, I drew inspiration and learned immensely. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi found our meeting fruitful in terms of strengthening the relations between our two countries. I couldn’t agree more…I call this aspect of an MP’s work “soft diplomacy”!
For more pictures of this trip, I invite you to check out the Embassy of Tunisia to Canada’s Facebook page, the pictures are dated between January 19th and 21st, 2017.