Former Canadian Defence Minister appointed as Honorary Consul for Sierra Leone in Ottawa, Canada
by SEM Contributor
Sierra Express Media
January 19, 2013
Washington, DC, Friday, January 11, 2013: His Excellency Bockari Stevens, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States, today presented a Letter of Commission to the newly appointed Honorary Consul in Canada, the Honorable David Pratt, P.C. at a short ceremony at Sierra Leone’s Washington embassy.
Ambassador Stevens, who is also accredited as Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to Canada, said he was very pleased to have an individual with Mr. Pratt’s background and qualifications assume the role of Honorary Consul in Canada. Sierra Leone does not have a resident high commissioner in Canada.
In presenting the Letter of Commission, Ambassador Stevens spoke of Mr. Pratt’s long association with Sierra Leone stretching back over 20 years. He cited Mr. Pratt’s involvement in development programs as a municipal representative in the early 1990s, his service as a Special Envoy to Sierra Leone during the rebel war as well as his participation in an anti-malarial bed net program through the Canadian Red Cross in 2007.
Mr. Pratt was an elected municipal representative in the Ottawa area from 1988-97. He served as a Member of Parliament from 1997-2004 and was Canada’s Minister of National Defence in 2003-2004. He currently works as a government relations consultant through his firm David Pratt & Associates.
Ambassador Stevens also outlined in general terms the role Sierra Leone expects its honorary consuls to play. This includes providing consular assistance to Sierra Leone citizens visiting Canada, maintaining regular contacts with the Sierra Leonean community in Canada and, importantly, promoting trade and investment between Sierra Leone and Canada.
Ambassador Stevens said “both countries will benefit from more vibrant trade and investment links and looking forward to an expansion in bi-lateral relations.” He also noted that the November re-election of Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma in free and fair elections will provide the political stability necessary to promote the ambitious economic goals contained in President Koroma’s “Agenda for Prosperity.”
The Ambassador said there are many opportunities for Canadian companies in areas such as infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, offshore oil, hydro-electric power, fisheries and mineral extraction. Sierra Leone possesses large deposits of gold, bauxite, rutile, iron ore and diamonds. He also noted that according to the World Bank, Sierra Leone has the second hottest economy in the world with a growth rate of 19.5 per cent.
Honorary Consul Pratt said: “I look forward to working closely with Ambassador Stevens to promote Sierra Leone’s interests in Canada and stronger bi-lateral ties. In recent years, Canada has made important contributions to Sierra Leone including military and police training, support for the Special Court in Sierra Leone, the consolidation of peace and post-war rehabilitation. Sierra Leone has come a long way from the dark days of the rebel conflict. And today, its future has never looked so bright. I’m confident,” he added, “that Canadians will want to be part of this important and emerging African success story.”
Sierra Leone has historic ties to Canada dating back to the former slaves that sought refuge in Halifax following the American Revolution and subsequently founded Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital.