Canada may close its embassy in Rīga

The Canadian government apparently is considering closing its embassy in Latvia as a cost-cutting measure, according to an April 15 report by The Canadian Press citing unnamed sources. The embassy would be one of 19 embassies and consulates that could be shuttered as the Canadian foreign affairs department faces a shrinking budget.

The Latvian National Federation in Canada, which just held its annual meeting over the weekend, will send a letter of protest to the Canadian government, said Mārtiņš Sausiņš, president of the federation’s executive board. The federation also will urge the Baltic Federation in Canada—an umbrella group representing Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians in Canada—to send a letter of protest, Sausiņš said in an e-mail.

The embassy opened in 1993 and also serves as Canada’s presence in Estonia and Lithuania. Canada recognized the renewed independence of Latvia on Aug. 26, 1991, and was the first of the G7 nations to do so. The embassy’s closure would come with a certain irony, because Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, who spent much of her life in Canada before being elected to her post, is serving out the last months of her second term.

According to The Canadian Press, the foreign affairs department faces a CAD 142.8 million cut in its budget this year. Other missions under consideration for closure are in Cambodia, the Balkan states and in some African countries. Late last year the Canadian government eliminated four consulates, including the one in St. Petersburg, Russia, which officially closed its doors on March 31.

Reaction from Canadian Ambassador Claire A. Poulin was not immediately available. However, on the embassy’s Web site, she writes, “Since the three states regained their independence in 1991, Canada has been maintaining and deepening strong bilateral relations, which unite us through the Baltic communities in Canada.”

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

6 thoughts on “Canada may close its embassy in Rīga

  1. Small wonder. The Canadian government needs lots of money for its crusade in Afghanistan. Even second-hand tanks don’t come cheap, so every dollar counts.

  2. Here we go again… When will it be time for us to throw out our pens, sit back and watch the world go by? More power to you, Mārtiņ Sausiņ, and congratulations on the three-star medal!

  3. Canada should keep strong relation with the countries from which Canada admit the immigrants and refugees. They mostly now become Canadaian citizen. The money should not prevail over relationship with the countries of origine of new Canadians. We, all new Canadians concerned by the this Government action, should unite and raise our voice against this move!

  4. The presence of a Canadian Embassy in the Baltic States is fundamental to the facilitation of more bilateral trade between these countries. Canadians have steadily increased investment and develped business opportunities in the Baltics since 1991 and the Canadian Embassy has been a great source of support. Canadian Companies have been assisted greatly by Embassy staff in their endeavours to land more business in the Baltics. It would be a tremendous set back for all Canadians as well as the people of the three Baltic States to lose that visible Canadian presence on Baltic soil.

  5. One more aspect. As I do not see any moves towards free entrance of the Baltic citizens to Canada, how will I be supposed to acquire my visa for doing so? By going to Warsaw personally? Oh, thanks…

  6. This is just another example of the Conservative Government’s short sighted vision with respect to the history of the peoples and future of Canada.

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