Canada PM Trudeau celebrates Diwali, says trade with India a priority

Attending a Diwali celebration in Toronto, Justin Trudeau said building stronger trade relationships between Canada and India has been a priority for his government since day one.

world Updated: Oct 18, 2017 23:48 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
Diwali in Canada,Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,India-Canada relations
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participating in a Diwali celebration in Ottawa on October 17, 2017.(Twitter)

Attending his second Diwali function on consecutive nights, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed that economic ties with India have been a priority for his government since it was formed and the current environment of protectionism provides greater opportunities for engagement between the two sides.

After lighting a diya at a “Diwali on the Hill” celebration in Ottawa’s Parliament on Monday evening, Trudeau attended the Canada India Business Council (C-IBC) Diwali Gala in Toronto on Tuesday.

Addressing those gathered for the function, Trudeau said, “Building stronger trade relationships between Canada and India is a priority for our government since Day One.”

Given that the difficult process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States is on, he said in an oblique jab at the Donald Trump administration: “As countries around the world turn inward, as they fuel scepticism about trade agreements or are anxious about their borders, there’s an opportunity for Canada and India to forge an even stronger relationship.”

This is a point he has made “many times” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trudeau added.

Trudeau also announced that three Canadian ministers will visit India in mid-November, leading a trade mission that will include a delegation of businesses. They are minister of international trade François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and economic development Navdeep Bains and minister of transport Marc Garneau.

Their trip is from November 12 to November 17 and starts with their presence at the 23rd Technology Summit in New Delhi, where Canada is a partner country.

Champagne, who too was present at the C-IBC event, said he believed “this is the time in our relationship to be ambitious”.

Reacting to Trudeau’s presence at the gala, C-IBC president and CEO Kasi Rao said it “was a foundational moment in the bilateral economic relationship”.

“The multi-ministerial presence in India next month will provide momentum,” Rao said. He felt “there is a strategic window ahead of us to move from confluence to convergence. We intend to play our part in this deepening economic relationship.”

After switching on the ceremonial Diwali display at the event, Trudeau said, “The central message of Diwali is a message, I think, more people need to hear. We need to be reminded that light can and will triumph over darkness, that knowledge and hope are powerful and effective ways to counteract ignorance and despair.

“And that at the end of the day, evil doesn’t stand a chance when it’s up against all the good in the world.”

While Trudeau did not announce his own plans for visiting India, he sounded optimistic about the times ahead as he said, “Canada and India have a long history together and I believe an even brighter future lies ahead.”

First Published: Oct 18, 2017 18:26 IST