PM Narendra Modi arrives in Canada, will focus on energy and boosting trade

  • Anirudh Bhattacharyya, Hindustan Times, Ottawa
  • Updated: Apr 15, 2015 19:17 IST

Narendra Modi has arrived in Ottawa on the final leg of a three-nation tour, marking the first standalone visit by an Indian Prime Minister in 42 years to Canada, where he is expected to focus on enhancing cooperation in energy, including civil nuclear use, and boosting trade.

He was formally greeted at the airport by a high-level Canadian delegation led by defence minister Jason Kenney.

But a far more vociferous and enthusiastic welcome awaited him at Fairmont Hotel in Ottawa, as his cavalcade drove down Rideau Street, which was festooned with Indian and Canadian flags to mark the first bilateral visit by an Indian premier since 1973.

More than a hundred supporters gathered at the hotel, shouting "Modi, Modi" and holding placards. Among them was Indira Keswani from Ottawa, who said, "I'm very excited to see the Indian Prime Minister." There was more excitement when Modi emerged from his vehicle and spent a few minutes interacting and shaking hands with his fans.

Modi arrived in Canada on the final leg of his three-nation tour that also took him to Germany and France.

During his three-day stay in Canada, Modi will hold talks with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper on a wide range of issues, including nuclear energy, trade and investment. He will also discuss security and global issues of mutual interest with the Canadian leadership.

"We are focused on several broad areas, for example, energy and agriculture. Our third aspect would be skilling and education…In effect, we see Canada as a partner of our development efforts," said external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.

"Of course when two leaders meet, they will go beyond these issues and one of the issues that India and Canada have a common approach to is security matters, this includes as open societies we face threats. How we can work together in dealing with these threats will also be an issue," he said.
In the civil nuclear field, there is the likelihood of a deal with Saskatchewan-based uranium giant Cameco Corp for supplying nuclear fuel to India.

Another significant aspect of the visit will be Modi's meeting with officials of Canada's Pension Fund with a focus on inviting them to India.

Other issues that are expected to figure on the agenda are progress on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and investments in urbanisation.

The level of enthusiasm on show from Ottawa has been "gratifying" for India, India's High Commissioner Vishnu Prakash said.

Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada's Minister for Foreign Affairs, agreed. "India-Canada relations have been on a rollercoaster. During the earlier governments, we were told, 'Don't engage with India.' Things have improved. Now, we're looking at India as a priority nation."

Hydrocarbons are one area that could be emphasised. Obhrai said, "This can be an area of growth. India is a major importer of oil and we're in a position to meet India's demand. We're a very reliable supplier."

Modi's biggest connect with the diaspora will be when he headlines a community reception at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto on Wednesday evening.

Nearly 11,000 people are expected at the venue though it has a capacity of 9,700. Several people may be left standing. Rajesh Shukla, in-charge of Canada for the Overseas Friends of the BJP, said: "There is a lot of enthusiasm even in the Canadian government establishment."

That is signified by the fact that unlike similar events at Madison Square Garden in New York and in Australia, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will share the stage with Modi. As Shukla said, "The Canadian PM will be addressing the audience and welcoming Mr Modi."

Attendees at the reception will not just be from Toronto and its suburbs but also from other cities such as Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver. Some will come from the US.

Several Canadian cabinet ministers, including Kenney, will also be at the event. As many as 30 Canadian MPs will also attend, as will the Premier of Ontario province, Kathleen Wynne.

With inputs from agencies

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