On our penultimate day of our London program, we had the opportunity to meet representatives from the UK Government representing both Canada and the devolved state of Scotland.
We started off the morning with a lovely walk through St. James’ Park to our first meeting with the Canada Team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Robert and Tommy walked us through how the Foreign Office prepares for visiting delegations and changes in government and their legislative agendas.
Following our meeting with the Canada Team, we were ably guided through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by Tara. As an employee of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Tara knows the building inside and out. She showed us the symbolism behind various carvings, paintings, and rooms. A highlight of the tour was easily getting a peak at 10 Downing St. from the courtyard of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. There, we heard about the ongoing feud between the Downing St. and Foreign Office cats.
After a lovely lunch in the Foreign Office canteen, we walked over to Scotland House at Dover House. We met with Alistair, Andrew, and Mhairi who chatted with us about Scottish devolution, referenda, and electoral reform.
Our last stop of the day was to Canada House, where we met with Claudie, head of the political section of the High Commission. On her third diplomatic posting, she shared with us her experiences working with a government that, while similar to Canada’s, has its own quirks (as well as a whole host of significant challenges to overcome). We also met with Aaron, a representative of Ontario’s interests in the UK. Aaron helps companies understand the opportunities available throughout the province of Ontario, a task made easy by how fantastic our province is! We finished our day off with a tour of the beautifully renovated Canada House (thanks Tessa) and, if you can believe it, a quick chat with former Prime Minister Joe Clark, whom we ran into in the lobby!
London has shown itself to be a world-class city that is full of surprises. Thanks to everyone we met with today for sharing their time and work with us on our amazing fourth day!