Trudeau to visit Liberia, attend la Francophonie in Madagascar on 1st trip to Africa as PM

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is heading to Africa for the first time as prime minister, where he will meet with the leader of Liberia and attend the Francophonie summit in Madagascar.

Trudeau, who is currently visiting Argentina, more than 20 years since the last Canadian leader made a trip to the South American country, will continue his globe trotting with this visit to the African continent Nov. 24 to 27.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the prime minister would press the importance of gender equality, diversity and inclusion and environmental protection at the summit of French-speaking nations.

In Liberia, a country settled by freed African-American slaves in the 19th century, Trudeau will meet with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected head of state in Africa.

Canada has committed millions of dollars in aid to the country, through the Global Fund, to help with access to HIV and tuberculosis drugs, as well as bed nets to provide protection from malaria.

The previous Harper government also committed $130 million to the country, and to the neighbouring countries of Guinea and Sierra Leone, to help combat the Ebola epidemic of 2013-14, when the disease killed some 11,000 people.

“This visit to Liberia and Madagascar demonstrates Canada’s renewed commitment to Africa. We want to strengthen relations with our African partners and advance issues such as the rights of women and girls, gender equality, health, and peace and security,” Trudeau said in a statement released by his office.

In Madagascar, the island country off the continent’s east coast, Trudeau will attend the annual summit of French-speaking countries, where he will push for further action on climate change.

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Former Governor General Michaelle Jean is the secretary-general of L’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. (The Canadian Press)

L’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, which hosts the meeting, is currently led by Michaëlle Jean, the former Governor General of Canada.

“The French language and culture have played a defining role in shaping the bilingual, diverse country that is Canada today and I am proud to participate in the summit for the first time. I look forward to building new ties with Francophone countries around the world and working closely to tackle the challenges we collectively face,” the prime minister said in the statement.

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