The committee began its study on the establishment of a charter of the Commonwealth, which was agreed to at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting that took place in Perth, Australia, in October 2011. Senators are conducting their study at the request of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird as the Canadian government considers the proposed charter and its implications for Canada.
Olivier Nicoloff, director of the Democracy, Commonwealth and Francophonie Division at Foreign Affairs and International Trade, discussed our country’s link to the Commonwealth, the decision by Commonwealth leaders to reform the organization, and aspects of the charter itself. Senior policy advisor Thomas Balint also responded to questions.
Senator Hugh Segal testified during the second part of the meeting. Senator Segal is the Canadian representative on the present 11-member Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group. The EPG submitted a report containing 106 recommendations to modernize the Commonwealth, the first of which was the adoption of a Charter. In December 2011, minister Baird appointed senator Segal as Canada’s special envoy for Commonwealth renewal.