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Canada will not pose a ‘covered threat’ to the Irish border, says UK special envoy Goodale


OTTAWA –

Canada’s special envoy to the UK said Ottawa would not make “a veiled threat” and suspended trade talks over fears Britain could breach a deal that has stalled decades. conflict in Ireland.

Last week, the Irish party pushing for island reunification asked Ottawa to pause talks on a post-Brexit trade deal. Sinn Fein argues that London is undermining the agreement to mediate peace between Catholics and Protestants.

But Ralph Goodale, Canada’s high commissioner in London, said the federal government had no plans to suspend the negotiations.

“We thought it would be more helpful and realistic to offer to help find the right answer, rather than perhaps a veiled threat,” Goodale said in an interview last week.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 largely ended three decades of armed conflict over the status of Northern Ireland, a British region.

The agreement maintains an invisible border between the territory and the Republic of Ireland, which remains part of the European Union. Experts say the lack of a hard border has helped prevent conflict.

The invisible border is expected to remain in place under an agreement Britain signed with the EU when it leaves the bloc in 2020, with customs checks instead taking place between the British mainland and the North. Ireland of this country.

But this spring, the British government enacted legislation cutting those rules. The European Commission says Britain is violating international law, while the US government has delayed trade talks, citing those concerns.

Goodale said Ottawa would not follow in the footsteps of the Americans and noted that Canadians like General John de Chastelain played a “key” role in reaching the 1998 agreement.

Goodale said: “We tell the UK on every occasion that we feel very strongly about this.

NDP MP Charlie Angus received John Finucane, a Sinn Fein MP in the UK Parliament, during a visit to Ottawa last week and said he supported the Belfast MP’s call for Canada to pause trade talks.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to stand on tiptoe in the face of the utter failure of the British government,” Angus said. He argues that Canada has more friction with the UK than with the US.

“Brexit has made Britain much weaker and we also see a real immaturity from their political leadership on this issue.”

Angus said he is working with the Catholic party itself because his Irish relatives, both Catholic and Protestant, hate sectarianism.

“The stakes are very high,” he said. “I mean, we don’t want to go back to a hard border. And we don’t want to go back to the violence that has hurt a generation of people here.” Northern Ireland”.

Meanwhile, Goodale said Canada was willing to help Britain with the border issue, suggesting Canada’s demilitarized border with the United States could offer some ideas.

“We provide constructive support wherever we can help in finding solutions to the tensions that have returned to the relationship,” he said.


This Canadian Press report was first published on October 23, 2022.


– With files from Marie-Danielle Smith.

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