Modi in Canada: Energy, trade and diaspora on agenda

canada-modiOTTAWA: After re-energizing bilateral relations with European powerhouses, France and Germany, India’s Prime Miniser Narendra Modi has touched down in Canada, the last destination in his nine-day, three nation tour. This is the first prime ministerial trip to Canada from India in over four decades; the previous one occurred in 1973, when Ms Indira Gandhi met her Canadian counterpart Pierre Trudeau.

Trade, energy, environment, security and cultural cooperation are key issues that will dominate the discussions between Mr Modi and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper. Several prominent federal Conservative MPs, including Defense Minister Jason Kenney and Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre, were at the airport to greet Mr Modi when his plane touched down in Ottawa.

Ahead of the talks, Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of India’s External Affairs Ministry (MEA) has said that “substantive outcomes” are expected in the bilateral talks.

modi-canada1The visit is expected to result in sealing of a commercial pact for the import of uranium and a separate agreement improving visa facilities for Indo-Canadians. Mr Modi and Mr Harper will have a formal meeting on April 15, after which both will visit Toronto and Vancouver. The Prime Minister will also be meeting several Conservative leaders, representatives of Canada’s business community and financial sector, as well as officials of Canada’s Pension Fund, to discuss industrial and financial sector collaborations.

Wooing the diaspora

Canada is home to nearly 1.2 million Indian diaspora. The prime mnister will interact with Indians in Toronto, Canada’s commercial capital. The address is projected to be along the lines of his famous Madison Square Garden address in New York last year. Connecting with Indian diaspora has become an important aspect of Indian foreign policy under Mr Modi and he includes community interactions in most of his foreign visits. On this tour itself, the expat communities in Paris and Berlin gave a rapturous welcome to the prime minster, who exhorted them to be a part of the Indian growth story in his address.

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