Trudeau's India visit
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will arrive in India for a six-day state visit later this week. The visit is significant as India looks to sign specific contracts for the supply of uranium from Canada for Indian nuclear energy reactors. Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Canada in April 2015 and discussions with predecessor Stephen Harper, there have been occasions when relations between India and Canada became frosty. It was mostly about Indian sensibility vis a vis pro-Khalistani elements based in Canada. But, a phone call from Trudeau in July last year apparently to talk about the Paris climate deal and subsequent visits to India by the members of Trudeau's Cabinet made the environment conducive for the highest level of engagements between the two countries. During his April 2015 state visit to Canada, the Indian Prime Minister and his counterpart Stephen Harper agreed to supply uranium to meet India's energy needs. During Trudeau's visit, India will be looking to sign specific contracts for the supply of uranium, which India needs desperately and Canada has in abundance. India also imports natural gas and oil from Canada. Besides New Delhi, Trudeau will visit Agra, Amritsar, Ahmedabad and Mumbai. He will visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Jama Masjid in New Delhi and Swaminarayan Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad. As many as 11 Cabinet ministers from Canada have visited India in the past 14 months. There are 124,000 Indian students in Canada. Canada is home to about 1.7 million Indian immigrants, accounting for approximately 3.6 per cent of Canada's population. India is Canada's second largest source of immigrants while India is the biggest importer of pulses from Canada.
As per a 2016 report, the bilateral trade between India and Canada is to the tune of eight billion dollars. There are over 1,000 Canadian business firms active in India. "The visit is aimed at further strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries in key areas of mutual interest including trade and investment, energy, science and innovation, higher education, infrastructure development, skill development and space," an Indian foreign ministry statement said. "Cooperation in security and counter-terrorism, as well as the exchange of views on global and regional issues of mutual interest, will also form important components of the visit," it added. At a Diwali function in October last year, the Canadian Prime Minister had said, "One of the reasons we are such good friends, Canada and India, is that we are the two largest democracies in the world – one by population and one by size." But there are irritants too in the bilateral relations. They include a private members' motion passed in the Assembly of Ontario terming the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as genocide, early last year. Then, Trudeau himself appeared at a Nagar Kirtan in Toronto where Harinder Malhi, who moved the motion, was honoured. A parade taken out on the occasion displayed Khalistani flags and separatist floats. The Indian government is especially irritated over a sudden resurgence in the Khalistani elements in Canada. India thinks such elements feel encouraged due to Justin Trudeau's party, The Liberal Party, playing to pro-Khalistan groups and gurdwaras. Son of a former Prime Minister, the 46-year-old Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is extremely popular in his country and also among the world leaders. What makes him all the more special can be gauged from his stand on marijuana. Speaking at a rally in Kelowna in July 2013, he told a crowd, "I'm actually not in favour of decriminalising cannabis. I'm in favour of legalising it. Tax it, regulate. It's one of the only ways to keep it out of the hands of our kids because the current war on drugs, the current model is not working. We have to use evidence and science to make sure we're moving forward on that." In an interview in August 2013, Trudeau said that the last time he had used marijuana was in 2010 after he had become a Member of Parliament. After his party formed the government in November 2015 and Trudeau became Prime Minister, he announced that a process has been initiated to discuss the legalisation of marijuana possession for recreational purposes. He wants to remove marijuana consumption and possession from the Criminal Code. At the same time, he plans to enact new laws providing for greater punishment to those convicted of supplying marijuana to minors and for impairment while driving a motor vehicle. On the Canada Day on July 1 this year, Trudeau is expected to announce the legalisation of the Cannabis variant.