Central Time Zone UTC-06:00
Capital City Ottawa
Currency Canadian dollar
National Day July 1
On her arrival in the UK in early September, it was abundantly clear to Canada’s new High Commissioner Mrs Janice Charette that this posting is unique given “just how international a city London is, be it the cultural, political, academic or commercial spheres. Just about every group or organisation with an international presence is here.” She says: “I consider this a massive advantage for Canada as we go about our work in the UK.”
Ottawa born and bred, Mrs Charette “comes from a tight knit family and we were encouraged to study hard, work hard and take care of each other. These are the same values that I try to bring to my work.” Describing herself as “a proud and dedicated public servant,” Mrs Charette’s work has spanned eight departments, with senior executive positions across skills development, labour markets, immigration, citizenship, employment insurance, health and justice. She served as Associate Secretary to the Cabinet as well as Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs before being named Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet in October 2014. The diverse role as principal public service advisor to Canada’s Prime Minister included work in “reforming the public service; Canada’s international engagement; strengthening national security; securing and rebuilding Afghanistan, on both the humanitarian and the military side; the federal government’s strategy for economic growth including negotiations around ambitious trade agreements; and improving the lives of our First Nations communities across Canada.” She was also “honoured to formally swear in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the members of his first cabinet with an equal number of women and men. As a person who advocates for the need to advance women in public life, that was an inspiring day.”
As a member of the Board of Directors of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, Mrs Charette also “cares deeply about mental health issues and has brought a focus on mental wellness into the workplace.” Additionally, she served as national chair of the government’s workplace charitable campaign, raising more than CAD$36 million.
Mrs Charette is very aware that the Brexit vote offers “both challenges and opportunities” and says her key priorities as High Commissioner to the UK include “not just promoting our country, but building a better understanding of modern Canada, of who we are today.
“Additionally, we are fully engaged in seeing the newly-signed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union (CETA) implemented to the advantage of both Canadian and British businesses and the hundreds of thousands of people they employ, as well as consumers in both countries. Canada values progressive trade and we want to use CETA to create not just trade links, but prosperity for all through viable jobs in growing industries.” She continues: “The UK and EU are important strategic partners for Canada with whom we enjoy deep, historical ties and common values. We will promote opportunities under the agreement to build and deepen these economic relationships in the years ahead.”
Additionally, Mrs Charette says “we continue to work hard on multilateral issues promoting human rights, tolerance and respect for diversity. These include longstanding work in the elimination of child and early forced marriage, and initiatives around maternal health. Canada will direct its aid budget towards projects that assist women and girls to escape poverty and oppression and we are determined to implement our international commitments to tackle climate change. We will advocate for these priorities through our work in the Commonwealth, the G7, the G20, our peacekeeping work and other bilateral initiatives.”
On top of that, given that 2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday, Mrs Charette hopes “to help spread a little bit of Canada around the UK.” She describes this as “a tremendous opportunity to build on our shared history and showcase both Canadian culture and the spectacular talent out there.”
Like all democracies, she says “Canada is challenged by an ever-changing and at times dangerous world. We need to be nimble, adaptable and protect our country and interests without losing sight of the kind of country we want to be. We believe in diversity and are committed to pluralism in our approach.” She continues: “Canadians are generous, open, welcoming people with a long history of immigration and tolerance. In a world with new threats being identified on a regular basis, ensuring we stay true to ourselves is perhaps our biggest challenge.”