Canada and the UK to share embassy space in cost-cutting scheme


Canada and the UK will be become partners in diplomatic missions together. Above, Canada's embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.



Canada and the United Kingdom are set to become flatmates in embassies around the world.

The news comes during a meeting between the countries' foreign ministers Monday and will see Canada gain access to the UK's African embassies and the UK gain access to Canada's Caribbean embassies.

The countries agreed that both would share their embassy and consulate space where the other does not have representation, reported CTV.

The National Post reported that the move would mean sharing facilities, support staff, security and some consular services.

Diplomatic officials would still represent their own country.

Before the meeting with his Canadian counterpart, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said of the agreement: "As the prime minister [David Cameron] said when addressing the Canadian parliament last year: 'We are two nations, but under one Queen and united by one set of values.' We have stood shoulder to shoulder [in situations from] the great wars of the last century to fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and supporting 'Arab spring' nations, like Libya and Syria."

He went on to say, according to the Guardian: "We are first cousins. So it is natural that we look to link up our embassies with Canada's in places where that suits both countries. It will give us a bigger reach abroad for our businesses and people for less cost."

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The UK suggested that similar initiatives may be sought with New Zealand and Australia to cut down on costs of far-flung, little serviced embassies and consulates.

The initiative is not without precedent.

The Globe and Mail pointed out that in Myanmar, Canada's diplomatic presence is housed in the British embassy, while in Mali, British diplomats are housed in the Canadian embassy.

Critics of the increased cooperation say that Canada and the UK have too little in common, while the UK's foreign policy raises much more ire around the world, possibly putting Canadian diplomats in danger.

“We have an incompatible brand with the UK,”  said Paul Heinbecker, the former Canadian ambassador to Germany and permanent representative of Canada to the United Nations in New York, reported the Globe and Mail.

“The idea that we have a sufficient amount in common with the British that it makes sense that we share premises as a matter of routine, that, I think, is a mistake.”