Canada and Estonia to foster digital cooperation

Canada and Estonia have signed a memorandum of understanding on digital cooperation, aiming to work together on joint projects.

The new partnership was signed during the Estonian prime minister, Jüri Ratas’s, visit to Ottawa on 28 May. Welcomed by his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, Ratas became the first Estonian prime minister to make an official visit to Canada.

Both countries already share a membership of Digital 7 – a network of leading digital governments, currently comprising Canada, Estonia, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea, United Kingdom and Uruguay. The group is seeking to harness digital technology and improve digital services for the benefit of its citizens.

Under the new cooperation agreement between Canada and Estonia, both countries will work together on joint projects, the exchange of experts and other ways to share good practices as well as concrete digital solutions to advance these priorities.

“Estonia has long been a global leader in digital governance, harnessing the latest technologies to better serve its citizens. We look forward to working more closely with Estonia on digital projects that will create good, middle class jobs and improve the lives of people in both our countries,” Trudeau said in a statement.

Ratas expressed hope that the digital cooperation agreement will bring the development of artificial intelligence to a new level. “Digital services are Estonia’s strength, but Canada is currently conducting strong research in the field of artificial intelligence, which is the most epochal technology,” Ratas said in a statement.

Historical relations

Canada never recognised the Soviet occupation of Estonia and was one of the first countries to recognise Estonia’s restored de facto independence in 1991. Canada was also the first country to ratify Estonia’s accession to NATO in 2004.

Post-1945, Canada accepted thousands of Estonian refugees. There are now approximately 24,000 Canadians of Estonian origin, representing one of the largest Estonian diasporas in the world. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, “Canadians of Estonian origin are among the ethnic groups with the highest average educational levels and incomes. Estonians have contributed particularly to the development of amateur sports and, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver, to architecture and the construction industry.”

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Cover: Jüri Ratas and Justin Trudeau meeting in Ottawa (Triin Oppi).

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About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and Politics & Society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter. You can write to Silver at silver@estonianworld.com.