Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s elevation of Chrystia Freeland as the new foreign minister in the first major overhaul of his Cabinet will be seen with optimism in India as she has played a role in trying to boost bilateral relations.
Freeland, a former journalist, will replace Stephane Dion, who was dropped from the Cabinet that Trudeau formed in November 2015. Freeland, elected to the House of Commons from a Toronto constituency, was earlier minister of international trade.
There will be plenty of optimism in India over this change at Global Affairs Canada. As international trade minister, Freeland travelled to meet and establish a rapport with India’s commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman when she visited Toronto in the autumn of 2016. Days later, Freeland travelled again from Ottawa for a meeting with finance minister Arun Jaitley, also in Toronto.
There is appreciation of 48-year-old Freeland’s role in trying to accelerate negotiations for two pending trade and economic agreements between the two countries, as well as her attitude towards India.
“She’s very committed, very dynamic. She’s ready to remain engaged as much as possible, as broadly as possible,” said a person who was involved in the bilateral meetings.
While Freeland’s immediate priority will be to deal with the imminent Donald Trump presidency in the United States, she may soon be tasked with creating the framework for Trudeau’s visit to India in 2017.
Dion, meanwhile, had irked New Delhi with a tweet after the surgical strikes following the terror attack in Uri last year, in which he had equated India with Pakistan and asked the two South Asian neighbours to “return to peaceful dialogue”.