India-Canada Relations : News & Updates

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Feb 16, 2019
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Can Ottawa get India right?

Divisions within the Indo-Canadian diaspora over Kashmir have made Canada tiptoe around India, argues Karthik Nachiappan. Here’s how to move forward.

Karthik Nachiappan, December 10, 2019
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

In early August, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government stripped Kashmir, India’s critical Muslim-majority state, of its special status granted under Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

Under Article 370, Kashmir was guaranteed, on paper, political autonomy except on matters of defence and foreign affairs. Laws concerning citizenship, property ownership and rights of Kashmiris were left under state control even as this autonomy was eroded by Indian governments over decades. Nonetheless, Kashmiris valued the unique constitutional arrangement until when they would ostensibly have a greater say over their political status. Previous Indian governments sustained Kashmir’s special status, as it legitimized India’s claim to be a secular democracy that resolved its quarrels within a liberal framework even as it, sometimes coercively, whittled that commitment. With the nullification of Article 370, Kashmir, specifically the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, has been extricated from bilateral discussions with Pakistan, effectively invalidating Islamabad’s claims of the state being contested territory.

Canada’s official response to the Modi government’s actions, which include the imposing of a curfew, a communications blackout and the detention of Kashmiri political leaders, has been anodyne. On August 13, then foreign minister Chrystia Freeland issued a reticent statement noting Canada’s concern for the Kashmiri population while calling for all parties to ‘maintain peace and stability.’

In contrast, the New Democratic Party responded forcefully; leader Jagmeet Singh lambasted New Delhi for the move while endorsing support for the local population. “I want the people of Kashmir to know that I stand with you,” he said in September. “I stand against that injustice and I denounce what India is doing to the people of Kashmir.”

The official response is understandable, given that federal elections were on deck and Canada did not want to take a strong position that could alienate certain elements of the Indo-Canadian community, notably Hindu Canadian groups who appear sympathetic to Modi’s cause vis-à-vis Article 370. It is also possible Ottawa did not issue a stern statement given the current state of Canada-India relations that has yet to recover from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s India trip in February 2018. Trudeau’s visit was marred by a series of fiascos tied to the Liberal Party’s struggle to differentiate between Sikh-Canadian elements that advocate for Sikh rights and a separate Sikh state in India and those that do not.


“Kashmir presents an opportunity to craft an India policy less focused on the Indo-Canadian diaspora and more on India as a rising power.”


The problem facing Canada-India relations is however larger. Domestic politics constrain Canada’s diplomatic relations since these considerations have been the lever through which Ottawa has preferred to view and engage with New Delhi since the Harper years. That must change. Kashmir presents itself as an opportunity for Ottawa to craft an India policy less focused on the Indo-Canadian diaspora and their seemingly irreconcilable concerns and more on India as a rising power worth investing in for the future. In other words, Ottawa needs to view India from a more strategic point of view since, as the Kashmir imbroglio exemplifies, there is no one diasporic position anymore.

Ideologically, most Hindu-Canadian groups adhere to the Modi government’s idea of an India that is culturally Hindu but tolerant and open. They wish for Ottawa to engage with the totality of India as an influential Asian power and not solely through the lens of aggrieved Sikhs whose views of India have remained vitriolic. But can Ottawa do so?

Opportunities for better Canada-India relations


So far, Ottawa has been largely unable to see India strategically — as a rising Asian power that merits sustained diplomatic investment and not just as a source of Canadian immigrants who matter politically at home. The politics of Khalistan or the clamours for a separate Sikh state carved out of India’s Punjab — and Canadian Sikh elements that propound that idea continue to mar Canada’s ties with India (that was laid bare during Trudeau’s visit in 2018). With Trudeau re-elected, the government must decouple its India policy from the politics of Khalistan, something that Canadian firms and provinces are keen to do. Depoliticizing ties will come down to prioritizing areas of strategic interest that matter to Canada and India. Simply put, Ottawa should think broadly, not purely in terms of votes and dollars. Opportunities to elevate the relationship exist.

Security

Canada’s relationship with India is vital. Security-wise, Canada and India benefit from having Ottawa actively engaged as another partner in the Indo-Pacific that can perhaps serve as a bulwark to China by deepening maritime cooperation with regional powers like Japan, Australia and the United States. Right now, Canada does not feature on the regional security map. In his June 2018 Shangri-La Dialogue keynote address, Modi underscored the importance of the Indian Ocean to India’s future, highlighting the region spanning from the African continent to the Americas. Modi underlined India’s burgeoning security ties with countries like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, the United States and Russia, noting how India sees itself as a node connecting nations across the Indo-Pacific. Canada didn’t receive a mention.

It is time Canada meaningfully pivots from the North Atlantic to the Pacific. Though Canada’s naval activities across the Pacific have increased, of late, they are piecemeal and not driven by a coherent strategy; moreover, expecting regional partners to focus on trade and investment rings hollow without adequately engaging on security issues. The world’s centre of gravity has shifted to the east and Ottawa must realign its security priorities. Betting on India is one way to execute this alignment given New Delhi’s involvement and pronounced interest in maritime security cooperation — bilaterally with countries like Vietnam, Australia, France, Indonesia and Singapore; through trilateral frameworks like the Japan-US-India dialogue; and multilaterally with mechanisms like the Quadrilateral security dialogue alongside Australia, Japan and the United States. Both countries can also establish strategic dialogues combining defence and foreign ministers, something that India holds with Japan and the United States through their 2+2 ministerial dialogues.

Another way for Ottawa to move forward is to build regional security links with India through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), specifically countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, who are all engaging with the Indo-Pacific concept through various multilateral trade and security mechanisms. Ottawa’s unflinching buy-in to the Indo-Pacific, that has thus far been sporadic and inconsistent, sends a clear message to the region of its commitment to a rules-based order and of their collective security. Canada also gains leverage when dealing with China with the backing of other Indo-Pacific nations. A clear commitment to the Indo-Pacific also redounds to Ottawa’s benefit when managing similar tensions in the Arctic with a resurgent Russia. As of now, Canada’s engagement with the Asia-Pacific region has been largely economic, with a focus on bilateral and multilateral trade agreements like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP); Ottawa’s regional interactions must evolve to include security issues.

Economic

The economic side of the Canada-India relationship rests on trade in goods. Ottawa has an opportunity to fundamentally reorient this approach toward trade in services with an emphasis on technology. A technology-centric economic policy toward India could pay greater dividends, given the stubborn nature of India’s economic bottlenecks, particularly in terms of land, energy and labour. In Modi’s first term, his government eased structural constraints throttling domestic and foreign investment. Several reforms were introduced from 2014-2019 — a national goods and services tax, new bankruptcy regulations, reformed labour laws, increased financing for small businesses and expanded welfare services by expanding financial access. New policies were introduced to boost domestic manufacturing and digital services, and to widen healthcare access. Macroeconomic fundamentals improved. Despite ambitious reforms, it remains difficult for Canadian merchandise goods to enter India given various logistical constraints; according to Statistics Canada, data on trade in goods indicates that 1700 Canadian firms exported goods to India for a total of $3.5 billion in 2016, which roughly amounts to $2.2 million per firm. This figure is substantially below the $10 million average Canadian firms generate when exporting to other global markets.

“A technology-centric economic policy could pay greater dividends, given the stubborn nature of India’s economic bottlenecks.”

One way for Canadian companies to expand market presence in India and generate additional revenue while avoiding existing bottlenecks is to target investments toward India’s burgeoning technology sector, which is teeming with companies producing apps and services for Indian consumers. The Indian economy is rapidly digitizing. By 2026, India’s e-commerce market should hit $200 billion from expanding internet and smartphone penetration. India is expected to have 840 million users online by 2022, when the e-commerce sector will be worth around $71 billion. Canadian companies should target this booming sector where a litany of services are provided through the digital medium. Synergies exist. Canadian firms have advanced capabilities in technologies that enable the Internet of Things (IOT), data analytics and wireless communication systems. Such technologies can be applied to address myriad development gaps as India digitizes further. Opportunities in this space will deepen with India’s growing market size and Canada’s expertise in technology development and deployment.

Climate action

Ottawa and New Delhi can also deepen collaboration on global challenges like climate change. Trudeau’s policies belie pronouncements made on climate progress. Climate Action Tracker, which tracks and ranks country emission rates, rates Canada’s climate commitments as insufficient or inconsistent with “holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement.” India, on the other hand, has been rated as a “global leader” on climate change with policies classified as compatible with Copenhagen’s 2°C goal, despite plans to build coal plants to meet growing energy demands.

Bilateral climate cooperation does not just entail working to reduce carbon emissions; both countries can collaborate to reduce carbon emissions through multilateral organizations like the United Nations, development agencies like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, and mini-lateral frameworks like Germany’s Alliance of Multilateralism launched at the UN General Assembly last month. The strategic thrust behind the Indo-Pacific now extends to climate change. India and the United States have launched a clean energy initiative called the Flexible Resources Initiative (FRI) that aims to ‘strengthen energy security, increase energy diversification and trade, and expand energy access across the Indo-Pacific.’ Concurrently, India is working with Pacific-Island nations on solar energy projects working out of Delhi’s leadership in the International Solar Alliance. Considerable potential exists for Canada and India to orient climate cooperation around geo-engineering particularly given Ottawa’s emphasis on carbon capture and storage technologies.

The Trudeau government has an opportunity to craft an India policy that is strategic, focusing on issues like maritime security, climate change, and trade and technology, which deeply matter to India’s rise. This approach entails reconfiguring how India is conceptualized at home — not merely as an extension of domestic politics or a pawn to persuade minority-rich communities to vote a certain way, but as an Asian power whose rise necessitates sustained diplomatic investment.

Of late, Canadian foreign policy toward India has been driven by domestic passions that distort, not clarify, national interests. The defence and advancement of Canada’s national interest vis-à-vis India requires a sober and dispassionate understanding of the broader Indo-Pacific and where rising powers like India fit in. Doing so is in Canada’s interest writ large.

Can Ottawa get India right?
 
India and Canada: A changing partnership
By Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
A shared history encourages the natural partnership of India and Canada. The two nations have embraced political democracy, pluralistic identities, vibrant civil societies and a market economy. What polities are at home, they are abroad too. This is true of India and Canada – and these very characteristics guide both New Delhi and Ottawa in their international outlook.

India has not only conducted 17 parliamentary elections and countless other state and local elections. It has, more importantly, deeply democratized its society. The real voice of India and the expressions of the most ordinary Indians are today finding articulation in our socio-economic and developmental narrative. Democracy is not just an exercise of rights; it is also a fulfilment of responsibilities. This is as true for the collective as it is for individuals. Democratic societies have a particular obligation to the weak and vulnerable. In today’s India, this is reflected in an emphasis on gender equality, affirmative action, sustainable development, and equitable access to essential public goods and services.

Canada would understand and empathize with such endeavours, having undertaken a similar journey itself in the past. Exchanging experiences and taking these together to the rest of the world, can be a shared enterprise. Indeed, this can be at the core of our endeavours through the Commonwealth and G-20. Together, we can make a real difference to the prospects of democracy in a world that no longer takes it for granted.
Together, we can make a real difference to the prospects of democracy.​
As pluralistic societies, India and Canada have nurtured a very broad spectrum of languages, faiths and ethnicities. This is our DNA and makes us what we are. But pluralism can sometimes pose its own challenges. It must be mindful of the broader societal and national framework in which it operates. And it should not lend itself to be misinterpreted or misused by those who would challenge national unity and integrity.

As market economies, India and Canada have a mutual familiarity; from technology to investment, there are natural synergies. Yet, there is more than that to this balance sheet. The value systems that we embed in our economic decisions — the deep commitment to transparency and market principles in our dealings — have an incalculable implication that must never be forgotten.

Democracy, pluralism and vibrant civil societies are a continuum. We are both strengthened by civil society opinions, interventions and activism. A culture of debate, in fact, adds resonance and creates a wider consensus to the shaping of policy. It gives communities a stake in policy-making and in social and economic development. Here too, both India and Canada have much to share with the world.

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The flags of India and Canada fly during India Day celebrations in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Aug. 19, 2018.Vincent McDermott/Postmedia News

We live in an inter-connected world; human society increasingly celebrates and grieves together. Societies such as ours are threatened by terrorism in different forms. This begins with radicalization and violent extremism and, as our shared history has unfortunately seen, can go to acts of extreme violence and mass killings. Both our countries have been at the forefront of the struggle to counter terrorism, whether it is in global councils or on the ground. In Afghanistan, our contributions have complemented each other. At the G20, we have worked to advance global efforts against financing terrorism and in countering illicit, transnational flows that sometimes end up financing acts of terror.

India and Canada also share a deep-seated conviction about their responsibility in the effort to address climate change. For India, delivering on its Paris commitments is an article of faith, validated by actual achievement. Our ambitious renewable energy program reflects this. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set India on track to achieve a target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, of which 100 GW will comprise solar energy. Performance has been so encouraging that the target for 2030 has been scaled up to 450 GW of renewable energy. We have already reduced emission intensity of GDP by 21 per cent and are on course to reaching the goal of 35 per cent announced in Paris.

India has co-created an institution in the form of the International Solar Alliance to promote the use of renewable energy through the world. A carbon tax of US$6 per tonne of coal production underlines the political consensus on climate action in India. We are creating additional carbon sinks of 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon equivalent by increasing our green cover. In such actions that safeguard the future of our children and the world they will inherit, we look to Canada as a kindred spirit.

We look to Canada as a kindred spirit.

Although the case for a wider and deeper Indo-Canadian partnership is obvious, making it happen will still require work on both sides. Given our complementarities, there is scope for leveraging everything from natural to human resources. There are three major areas that constitute a focused agenda for collaboration.

First, education and mobility: Fostering an environment that enables Indian talent to be available, and to be equipped to be available, for global use. For decades, Canada has been a welcoming destination for Indians and has offered a home to its 1.8 million-strong Indian community. They have fully integrated and brought fresh vigour to their adopted country, contributing to Canadian life in every field, from politics to commerce, from the academics to the arts.

This living bridge is reinforced and enriched each passing year. Post-secondary enrolment by Indian students in Canada grew over 150 per cent between 2014 and 2019, bringing in almost $7 billion in tuition fees alone to colleges and universities here. More than mere monetary value, the shared social capital this talent pool represents is an asset worth nurturing. Canada is the second most attractive global destination for Indian students, 176,000 of whom represent the best of what our systems have to offer and each of whom is a brand ambassador for India and Canada in his or her own right.

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Participants celebrate at the India Day Festival and Grand Parade in Toronto on Aug. 19, 2018.Ernest Doroszuk/Postmedia News
Second, business and economics: The Indian economy is not just growing but fundamentally transforming. It is an exciting laboratory of digital infrastructure, technology adoption and innovation, and is on its way to becoming a US$5-trillion economy in the near future. It offers a great return on investment and Canadian funds are discovering that it is a safe bet. There are three major initiatives underway in India of interest to Canadians — Make in India, Skill India and Start-up India. Canada, of course, has its own creativity and innovation strengths. How we tap into such complementarities effectively is a question that needs an early answer.

Bilateral trade is expanding, and while still well below potential, has risen 33 per cent since 2014 to reach $8.5 billion. Canada has large reserves of hydrocarbons and when Canadians, at their own pace and in line with their own priorities, develop these resources, they could serve to enhance India’s energy security. India and Canada have been co-operating in the field of civil nuclear energy. The commencement of concentrated uranium ore exports to India in 2015 was a milestone. Going forward, this will be significant in enabling us to diversify from thermal energy sources.

India and Canada need to bring their shared ideals and principles to conversations on global platforms

Third, working together in the global arena: To ensure that the world is more secure, the planet is more sustainable and that our values are fully reflected in the workings of the international system, India and Canada need to bring their shared ideals and principles to conversations on global platforms. These range from conversations on terrorism and climate change to nurturing transparent principles and protocols whether in trade, investment or technology appropriate for the fourth industrial age.

The future beckons us. We must display the commitment and energy to shape it together.

Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is India’s Minister of External Affairs. He served as that country’s Foreign Secretary from 2015-18, and previously served as India’s ambassador to the United States (2013-15), China (2009-2013), and Czech Republic (2000-2004), as well as serving as High Commissioner to Singapore (2007-2009). His government career has also included diplomatic assignments in embassies in Moscow, Colombo, Budapest and Tokyo. He arrives in Ottawa for an official visit on Thursday, Dec. 19, and will be in Toronto on Dec. 20.
India and Canada: A changing partnership
 
Canada does not support separatism or break-up of India: Envoy Nadir Patel

Jan 25, 2020, 11:10 AM (IST)


The Canadian High Commissioner to India Nadir Patel will soon return to Ottawa after an unusually long tenure of over five years. In an interview with The Tribune, Patel spoke on a wide variety of topics -- from dispelling the impression that Canada has a soft spot for separatism, welcoming more Indian immigration and hoping for greater collaboration on the world stage. Following is the interview by KV Prasad and Sandeep Dikshit

Canada has the highest per capita of Indians (at four per cent of the population) and more are in the queue. With the points system getting tightened, what is your message for prospective travelers from India ? What kind of people and qualifications are you looking at ?

Canada has a longstanding positive relationship with Punjab, which is deep-rooted for many years; the first settlers in Canada from Punjab go back to the late 1800s. They were the first community from any part of India that settled in Canada and have a long history. This is welcomed. We would like to see more opportunities for Indians who are interested in relocating to Canada, whether through short-term or long-term; it could be through education, it could be through an application for residency.

Canada consistently ranks among the top countries in almost any category across the board by independent third parties. Recently, Canada ranked number one in quality of life, in terms of a safe inclusive place, in terms of studies and students. We now have over two lakh Indian students studying in Canada. Canada now counts India as the largest source country of permanent residence of students and in virtually any category of immigration sphere. And this is not only because of the diaspora and its links but also because Canada has offers in terms of jobs, educational opportunities and quality of life.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishnkar had met then counterpart (now Deputy PM) Chrystia Freeland early last year and current Foreign Minster Champagne last month. Do you think these meetings can effect a turnaround in the relationship and breach the gap after the row over Sikh separatists ?

I wouldn’t characterise the relationship as having a breach per se. If you look at 2018 and 2019, you will see record numbers across the board in virtually metric in the relationship.

In two-way merchandise trade, 2018 was a record year with $ 9.4 billion in trade; 2019 was another record year, it exceeded $ 10 billion. Five years ago, it was $ 6 billion and in 2017, it was about $ 8 billion. So the growth continues. I can say that about every metric across the board. Investments are significant. Five years ago, total investment both ways was $4-5 billion. It is now over $40 billion. Most of that is Canadian investment into India, much of it in the last two years alone.

The number of students in Canada is now over two lakh; 2018 was a record year with 1.72 lakh students from India. Five years ago, it was 40,000.

If you look at every other category, tourism both ways is up double digits, the number of Canadian companies active here is growing at a rapid pace. The number of Indian companies looking at expanding their investments in Canada is growing as well. Air Canada and Air India have non-stop flights and the list goes on. I say this because the relationship has not seen any type of slowdown or loss of momentum.

So Jaishankar’s visit was a great opportunity to take forward that momentum. Even in the last couple of years, you mentioned Deputy PM (then Foreign Minister) Freeland had met Jaishankar but even before that minister Freeland had spoken on the phone a couple of times. There have been prime ministerial and other ministerial interactions as well. There have been visible changes.

Jaishankar’s visit in December was a great opportunity to do three things: (i) take stock of the relationship, (ii) explore new areas of cooperation. We will maintain momentum on investment and trade. We identified a number of areas of mutual interest such as climate change, collaboration in multilateral fora, gender and a common interest in focusing on peace and security not only regionally but around the world. We are looking at ways to make the relationship grow even further, (iii) acknowledge that there was very good momentum in the relationship and what we need to do to keep that momentum going and growing.

Another thing to keep in mind is in 2019, there were elections in India and in Canada. During the first half of the year when the elections in India took place, there wasn’t going to be much in terms of high-level engagement opportunities. And in the second half of the year, there wasn’t going to be much [interaction] because the Canadian elections took place.

In 2018, there was the visit by PM Trudeau, there were other ministerial visits as well. It was very good timing for the minister [Jaishankar] to visit Ottawa, and minister Champagne acknowledged that Jaishankar was the first Foreign Minister to visit since the Trudeau government was re-elected. All these point to things going really, really well.

In the last few years [post Trudeau’s India visit], there seems to be some kind of low energy contact. Is that a fair assessment ?

I am not sure I would characterise it that way. The Counsellor-level dialogue took place in the fall of last year, the joint working group on counter terrorism and security issues took place in the second half of last year as well. We had numerous engagements at the official level as well, maybe not at leaders’ level due to the elections. I think there has probably been more happening under the radar than in an overt, public manner. Because of the elections we have a policy that we will be limited in the number of speeches. Part of it has been due to elections but if you look at the statistics, believe me, there is no slowdown. In fact, it is the entire opposite. We are continuing on a solid boom across all areas.

You mentioned that new areas of cooperation with Jaishankar were discussed. But seven-eight years ago, under the Conservative Government cooperation in new areas such as nuclear energy and importing oil were discussed. What we see now is India importing oil from the US.

The key element in the nuclear relationship, thanks to the nuclear cooperation agreement, is the sale of Canadian uranium to India. India counts Canada as a stable, reliable [Canada had broken off its nuclear ties with India after the 1974 nuclear test] partner for the import of nuclear for the civil nuclear sector. The nuclear sector here is part of the clean energy future of India among others as well.

We have had Canada’s nuclear associations along with companies visit here and there are other opportunities but that [uranium supply] is the key area. In terms of what may have happened over five years ago there are a couple of things. First, Canada and India continue to collaborate quite significantly on clean energy, renewable energy. We are very active in the solar and wind space. We are the second largest exporter of hydroelectricity in the world and are bringing a lot of that capacity and knowledge here in terms of potential in the hydro-sector as well.

In oil and gas, there have been visits both ways by the ministers concerned and there have been exploring ways in which companies can explore opportunities in Canada, whether it is in Alberta or here as well, for example in oil field exploration. On the gas side, there is infrastructure being developed in Canada that will have a significant impact going forward as well.

The energy relationship is multifaceted and we would want to see it grow. We are placing a big premium on clean energy, renewable energy. That is the future for not just Canada but India as well.

How do you look at two other issues that have been on the table for a long time -- BIPA and CEPA ?

Both countries are keen on both. But the reality is that Canada is a free and open trading nation. We are free trade liberalisers. India is not quite where Canada is in terms of its trade policy. We would like to see less protectionism and more free and open trade. Now, there is still scope to conclude some type of an agreement. But when you are coming at it from different philosophical angles, it can take more time to bridge the gap.

The good news is that there is keen interest on both sides. If there is potential to conclude something, the question is when. We are keen to conclude something on the investment side but the Indian Government has made it clear that they wish to link the investment agreement to the trade negotiation. We feel that we shouldn’t do that. We should go ahead and conclude the investment treaty because it would stimulate even greater investments from Canada. The investment story has been a good one but concluding an agreement would bring more investment. These items were discussed during Jaishankar’s visit. The good news is we are on the same page in wanting to do something but certainly much more needs to be done.

Talking of philosophical differences, are there some between India and Canada on interpreting separatism ? Have you bridged the gap during Jaishankar’s visit ?

I would challenge the premise of your question. There has been no gap. PM Trudeau, several ministers and I have made it very clear that Canada respects the territorial integrity and unity of India. Said in another way, we do not support or condone any separatism or any separation of India. I don’t think how we can be any clearer than that. That appears to be the Indian position too. So for me there is no gap.

The second element is that if there is any violation of Canadian laws, someone crosses the line and promotes terrorism or violence whether on the financing side, we will act on any evidence, any information that showcases any type of laws have been broken. We have made that very clear. Our security agencies continue to collaborate very closely and they will continue to do that. That is a very important point that often gets lost in the noise. Our position is very clear on that. This is something that has not changed.

To be more specific, there is concern among Indian authorities largely because of what they see as pro-Khalistan activities which they keep flagging at times. We have heard about it at the ministerial level and the MEA level. That has been the issue with Punjab in particular. Punjab CM Amarinder Singh has also taken a position on that.

My comments are related to pro-Khalistan activities. If there are any laws that are being broken, we will act on those. But Canada does not support the creation of another state or the separation or break-up of India. You can take that in the context of that topic or any other separatist movement. We very much respect Canada’s charter of rights that provides for freedom of expression. But if these freedoms are impeded upon, we will act on that right away.

Both countries are keen on taking on a wider role of ensuring peace and security in the world. Canadian planes are in Australia battling bushfires while your military is in Iraq and Afghanistan. India is planning to collaborate with France, Japan and the US in security and development. Is there any Indo-Canadian plan for collaboration in any part of the world ?

We are active in a number of places. India is also active in places where Canada is active. In Afghanistan there are strong developmental programmes and in those countries our ambassadors have very strong, close working relationships. We certainly see potential to collaborate together in other countries. The best avenue up to now has been multilateral initiatives and we are very much committed to multilateral initiatives, including peacekeeping. India, of course, plays a very significant leadership role around the world as well. We will see more of this happening.

Much has been talked about the Indo-Pacific concept. How does Canada look at India viewing this concept as central ?

We have had some very good discussions on India’s leadership role in the region. When Jaishankar was in Ottawa, we discussed the Indo Pacific concept. It will shape India’s foreign policy priorities, India can count on Canada as an important partner contributing to regional stability and security. It is in everyone’s interest for that to happen.

What is Canada’s stand on CAA, NRC and Kashmir ?

Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland did come out on Kashmir. She indicated that Canada, like many other countries around the world and like many Canadians is concerned about the potential risk of escalation in Kashmir. We would like to see any risks managed and of course…reports of house arrests and infringements of civil liberties…that was our perspective. Like any friend, we can have open and frank discussions about these topics and that we did. We would like to see any risks around escalation be managed and maintained. Beyond that when it comes to these types of topics we do have, we will have very honest, good, frank discussions, articulating Canada’s perspectives and that of Canadians or like-minded countries as well. What you would have noticed is that we don’t talk about it [Kashmir/NRC) publicly because we feel it is much more constructive if we can share honest perspectives with our closest friends behind closed doors. We did that and we will continue to do that as well.

You have been the High Commissioner for over five years. Such a long tenure is extremely unusual. What are the key takeaways ?

There are three dimensions to it. The first is the relationship itself. Some of those metrics I quoted from five years ago to right now; virtually every statistic has seen unprecedented growth coincided with time here. There are multiple reasons for that. I believe that growth will continue at a more rapid pace in the next five years. The second thing is the momentum in relationship itself – Jaishankar’s visit to Ottawa was very positive. We anticipate several high-level engagements in the coming months. We are diversifying the relationship, looking at arts and culture and films, literature and other areas to expand more people-to-people ties, the growth in diaspora, the educational ties. The growth in soft elements is also something to be proud of.

Being of Indian origin and having been here to see that growth has been something I wear with a lot of pride. As we move on we will miss the most the people, the friends, the relationship, in business, in government, out of government. We have been welcomed with open arms. That is a combination of Indian and Canadians coming together. I will always have a special place for India. This is not ending my time in India. It will be a life-long ambassadorship as far as I am concerned.

Canada does not support separatism or break-up of India: Envoy Nadir Patel
 
we should simply recall our ambassador for few weeks, words without actions have no value. The brazen way of commenting on our internal affairs is unacceptable. We are giving too much respect for a country which lets khalistani terrorists run amok. Look at chinese they dont let any one say anything abt their country even when they are totally wrong.
 

Canada: Alleged member of proscribed ISYF may be deported to India​

A Canadian court has dismissed an application by a person alleged to be the former president of the proscribed International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), potentially paving the way for his deportation to India.

The ruling was delivered against an application by Ranjit Singh Khalsa by justice Glennys McVeigh of the federal court in Ottawa in late October. Khalsa, who resides in the Metro Vancouver region, had, through his lawyers, contested a decision by a member of the immigration division (ID) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), which found him to be “inadmissible to Canada” under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act “for having been a member” of the ISYF, which became a listed terrorist entity in Canada on June 18, 2003.

Stewart Bell, senior journalist with the Canadian outlet Global News, tweeted in this regard, “Federal court upholds deportation order against ISYF member.”

In fact, Khalsa is also alleged to have been the president of the ISYF.

Khalsa remains an Indian citizen. He came to Canada in 1988 and filed a refugee claim and became a permanent resident in 1992. However, his subsequent application for citizenship finally led to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) finding him inadmissible because of the alleged ties to the ISYF.

The immigration division of the IRB found him inadmissible in a decision dated February 25, 2021, and also issued a deportation order.

In her ruling, delivered on October 28, justice McVeigh noted, “In sum, I find the decision - which is long, detailed, and grapples with the major issues - to be reasonable. The ID member dealt reasonably with the evidence before them, and demonstrated a logical chain of analysis that was justified in light of the facts and law before them.”


Queen Elizabeth is 'alright': Prince Charles

Prince Charles said on Wednesday that Britain's Queen Elizabeth was alright but that at the age of 95, it was not quite as easy for his mother as it used to be.

A report from the national broadcaster CBC from August 30, 1999, described Khalsa as “the president of the International Sikh Youth Federation” while quoting him in an article.

Hindustan Times reached out to the Vancouver-based law firm Edelmann & Company, which represented Khalsa, for comment on the ruling and whether they were planning to pursue the matter further, but has not received a response so far.

Public Safety Canada has ISYF in its listing of terrorist entities. Its description reads: “Since 1984, its members have been engaged in terrorist attacks, assassinations and bombings primarily against Indian political figures, but also against moderate members of the Sikh community.”
 

‘India hopeful of clinching early harvest trade deal with Canada’​

India is hopeful of clinching an early harvest trade deal with Canada within a year, according to a top Indian diplomat in Canada.

Speaking to the Hindustan Times, India’s high commissioner to Ottawa Ajay Bisaria expressed optimism that as a follow up of the announcement of negotiations towards an Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA), the two sides “will discuss this on an accelerated basis and conclude the agreement within a year”.

India and Canada decided to consider the interim agreement when Canadian minister of international trade, export promotion, small business and economic development Mary Ng visited New Delhi in March and held a Ministerial Dialogue on Trade & Investment with Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on March 11.

The EPTA, if concluded, will be a transitional step towards the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Indian officials said a similar interim deal signed with Australia on Saturday could serve as a “model” for the EPTA.

Both sides were focused on a pragmatic approach towards achieving such an outcome. This was echoed by Ng as she addressed members of the Canada India Foundation (CIF) in the Greater Toronto Area town of Markham on March 25.

She said, “We (Ng and Goyal) both want to get something accomplished. Once we take these important early steps, it creates confidence on both sides. We both agreed to negotiate an EPTA. This will be the first step toward a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.”

Ng told CIF members that her “goal” was “to expand the bilateral trade to the fullest extent possible.”

The Canada-India EPTA is being looked upon as the “first deliverable” towards strengthening the economic and trade relationship between the two countries.

After languishing for nearly four years, Indian and Canadian negotiators resumed discussions in June 2021 towards a potential trade pact. Before that, he last round of negotiations were held in August 2017.

Discussions on a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement or FIPA are also continuing but CEPA remains the priority.