BUILDING on informal co-operation between their elected members and staffs and on historical links between their populations, the Parliament of TT and Legislative Assembly of Ontario yesterday signed an agreement to become officially twinned to each other.
A document was signed by Senate President Christine Kangaloo and Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George on one hand, and assembly speaker Ted Arnott, in a ceremony at the Parliament building also attended by local MPs and senators.
Kangaloo, in her welcome address, spelt out the longstanding links between TT and Ontario, a theme picked up by Annisette-George and Arnott, who stated their hopes for the twinning. Kangaloo said TT and Ontario have long had a “unique and particularly close bond,”
“Two of every three immigrants from TT to Canada chose to settle in the province of Ontario, with many, if not most of us, choosing to live in the city of Toronto.
“In 2012, on a visit to TT, the former Canadian governor general David Johnston noted that some 100,000 Trinbagonians now live in Canada.”
Kangaloo effused that thousands of citizens of this country and Canadians come together to celebrate the Caribbean festival Caribana each summer in Toronto.
“The truth of the matter, therefore, is that TT and the Province of Ontario have, in many ways, long been twinned. Today’s ceremony may mark the twinning of our legislatures, but the lives and the destinies of our peoples have long been inextricably intertwined and inseparably linked.”
Saying the twinning brings a new level of co-operation and collaboration between the TT and Ontario Parliaments, Kangaloo said, “Our historical and cultural indicators assure us that, as we work and live together, this endeavour, like all those of the past, will surely be immensely successful, and will add another important dimension to our shared destinies.”
Arnott said the twinning will be centred on “co-operation, collaboration and understanding.” He said the relationship could be tailored, flexible and practical, given that both jurisdictions are unique.
“Twinning agreements are ideal vehicles for capacity-building, skills training and the strengthening of parliamentary practice and democracy.”
Saying MPs face a steep learning curve and a demanding schedule, but lack formal training for the job, Arnott said twinning agreements can provide forums to develop their capabilities.
Annisette-George listed past linkages between TT and Ontario such as many of her mother’s friends going to Canada to be teachers, the twinning of the cities of St Catherine’s and Port of Spain and of Brock University and the University of the West Indies, and even the choir La Petite Musicale now surviving in Ontario, albeit not in TT. She said the two parliaments were now following the lead of their constituents. The twinning would see the two bodies recognise they were partners, not clones ,and had differences to be respected and tolerated. Annisette-George saw the relationship as a sharing of experiences, skills and expertise to benefit and advance each other. Saying a marriage involves two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other, she said, “I commit that the Parliament of TT refuses to give up on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.”