Falkland Islands lawmaker MLA Mike Summers, currently in Ottawa to meet Canadian Liberal and Conservative members of parliament, and government officials, stated that Canada has been a friend of the Falklands for many years and has always supported the right of self determination for people.
The primary topic of conversation Summers is having with Canadian officials is the self-determination of the Falklands and its sovereignty dispute with Argentina. This month the United Nations Decolonization Committee or C24 is holding its annual round of presentations in New York.
Part of managing the sovereignty dispute is to make sure we’ve got friends in different places” MLA Summers was quoted in the Canadian media. He added that “Canada has been a friend of the Falklands for many, many years, and Canada has always been happy to defend the right of self-determination for people, said MLA Summers at the British High Commission in Ottawa, where he was interviewed.
“Canada has always historically been happy to support that position. I understand that the new government is reflecting on that, and whether that puts it in a more difficult position in terms of its relationships with Latin America.”
In response to questions about Canada's stance of Falkland sovereignty, Canada’s foreign affairs department said Ottawa supports the wishes of Falklands inhabitants, who voted overwhelmingly in March 2013 to remain as a British Overseas Territory.
“In accordance with the democratic values the two countries share, Canada believes the wishes of the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands must be respected,” wrote Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Brittany Venhola-Fletcher.
MLA Summers also talked about climate change and its impact on the Falklands, already felt by farmers, and addressed the issue of dealing with the fallout from Brexit, as he said all British Overseas Territories were.
“We’re all kind of uncertain as to where this is going to go,” said Summers. “For us, the access to the European market for our fish products, for our meat and for our wool, is crucial. It is absolutely critical to the economy that we have access, particularly for the fish products” underlined the Falklands lawmaker.
More specifically on a warming climate, MLA Summers said it threatens to upend the economic livelihoods of Falkland Islands residents, since the economy is based fishing, agriculture and wildlife tourism.
“If warming continues, and if the ice shelves in the Antarctic continue to melt at the rate that they are, the outflow of cold water from the south to the north will make the ocean regions around the Falklands probably colder”
“The potential then comes for some species to migrate further away from the Falklands...if the species themselves, or the species that they feed on start to shift, the potential for economic consequences is high”.
MLA Summers said the Falklands is already experiencing the effects of climate change on its agriculture, said Summers. “It’s getting drier...temperatures are not rising particularly, but they’re unstable. Wind patterns are unstable, he said. “Farmers have to adapt and change the way they do things.
The Falklands, which is economically self-sufficient, is exploring new business opportunities including offshore oil and gas. Summers acknowledged that fossil fuel development might strike some as actually contributing to the problem rather than detracting from it.
“What we have to weigh up, is whether we can manage our hydrocarbon regime in a sustainable way, and keep all the areas around the Falklands pristine for future generations.”