No place for hatred in Canada and law will be enforced; don’t recognize unofficial referendum: Canadian Envoy Mackay | The Financial Express

No place for hatred in Canada; we don’t recognize unofficial referendum: Canadian Envoy Mackay

Canada’s High Commissioner Cameron Mackay speaks with Manish Kumar Jha on the current bilateral relations in the wake of cautionary ‘Advisory’ which makes the relations at best, patchy now. But the finer aspect of Indo-Canada is about the unfolding the immense potential as the overall economic partnership with India reaches close to $100 billion. The crucial is to address the gaps in security and defence co-operation as Canada remains truly an Indo-Pacific country. Mackay opens up on such opportunities from ongoing CEPA to energy security with India.

No place for hatred in Canada; we don’t recognize unofficial referendum: Canadian Envoy Mackay
Canadian High Commissioner to India Cameron MacKay

MEA has issued such an advisory, based on the “sharp increase in incidents of hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities in Canada”. The Canadian government led by the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau-led also responded, issuing a travel advisory for its citizens travelling to India. The advisory warns people about travelling to states like Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan which share borders with Pakistan due to the presence of ‘landmines’.

However, High Commissioner Mackay strongly denies, saying: “There is no place for hatred in Canada, and the law will be enforced; We don’t recognize unofficial referendums.”

While the perception remains that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau-led government has been soft on curbing such violent extremism and anti-India activities in Canada, Mackay refutes.

He adds: “Where there is any hatred expressed between groups and candidates, for example, just in March 2022, there were arrests made associated with previous attacks on Sikh, Jain and Hindu temples in Toronto. So, we do enforce the law. And we’ll continue to do so.”

What are the grounds, that Canadian government has issued such a statement? Is it a counter statement against the Indian advisory?

Mackay responded that Canada’s travel advisory has not changed in recent weeks or months.

He points out: “I think it’s very common for governments to advise their citizens when they’re traveling and visiting in a country abroad, to give them advice, how to be safe and secure. And the one thing that we both do. India did this last week, and Canada does the same.

“I will say the Indian travel advisory last week, noted a perception on the part of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, and uptick in sort of tensions within Canada etc. I can just emphasize that the Canadian government is very strong with its view that there is no place for hatred in Canada, and the law will be enforced.

Mackay also puts forth his argument, sighting the democratic tradition, says, it’s perfectly legal to talks about issues, for example, like separatist movements, it’s perfectly legal in Canada, to say that Quebec, a province in Canada, should be its own separate nation and should separate from Canada. In fact, it’s legal to have a separatist party, there are members of the Canadian Parliament and that can Quebec parliament that advocate for this. You can argue in Canada that Scotland should be independent or Catalonia, etc. So, this is all allowed under our freedom of expression laws. What’s not allowed in Canada is incitement to violence based on discrimination.

Beyond that, the finer aspect of Indo-Canada is about the immense potential in realizing the economic and security partnership which is supposed to be the grandest between two big democracies with shared values and common interest.

On Economic Partnership (CEPA)

As a matter of fact, Canada’s economic partnership with India is about $100 billion. As HC Mackay points out: “We already have a $100 billion bilateral commercial relationship that’s led by $70 billion of Canadian institutional investment into India.” Two-way trade now stands at $10.5 billion and services exceed $6.67 billion. 

That’s the big Canadian pension plans, along with private investors like Brookfield and Fairfax, using Canadian capital and Canadian savings and investment, basically, to help to build India’s economy even further, he explained the diversity of the Canadian portfolio investment in India across various sectors.

Canadian companies that have established a presence here in the manufacturing, in the auto parts sector, in the high-tech sector, advanced manufacturing, food production, etc. You put all of that together, plus indeed students that you mentioned earlier, then we get to a $100 billion bilateral commercial relationship.

With such scale in overall institutional investment, the bilateral trade remains a paltry $10 billion. It indicated the severe gaps and sigh of underperformance.

Mackay does admit the severe gaps in the bilateral trade. “When you think about the size of our two economies, both G- 20 economies, it means a $100 billion bilateral commercial relationship is a seriously underperforming economic relationship.”

“We can do better and I think that’s one of the reasons why the two governments have agreed to relaunch our bilateral trade and investment negotiations just last March. And indeed, we are making progress round four of those negotiations is this week here in Delhi.”

Defence and Security

While Canada has very strong Indo-Pacific orientation, the alignment with India is limited on this front. Witnessing the shifting stance of geopolitics and Canada’s security interests across the Indo-Pacific, Ottawa is keen to collaborate in defence & security. Canada has high-quality defence equipment. Mackay says both nations would benefit from collaborating on defence technology and strengthening Defence industrial cooperation with Canadian industries.

Mackay explained: “Canada is a champion of a free, open and inclusive Indo Pacific. And India, obviously, is a critical part of it. So, we’re working very hard to find pragmatic ways for us to work together to deepen our defence relationship, including on the business side.  I would say there are more than 600 Canadian companies that specialize in the defence sector.”

“We’ve got a number of Canadian companies who will be participating in DEFEXPO 2022 coming up in just a few weeks here in India.”

Mackay highlights that Canada has quite considerable capacity in aeronautics, aviation communications, sonar, maritime domain awareness, satellite technology, etc.

“And so, these are exactly the sorts of things that they’ll be exploring with their Indian counterparts is how can we deepen our defence cooperation, he outlines.

Energy Cooperation

India is a large and growing oil importer, while Canada is a large and growing exporter of oil and gas. However, as they invested in oil fields across the world, Indian oil companies have missed out on the Canada story. In fact, the opportunities spread across renewable energy and nuclear energy.

What are the ways to unlock potential in addressing the critical energy security?

High Commissioner Mackay explains the untapped opportunities, says “Canadian institutional investors have put billions into renewable energy and India’s solar panel farms, etc. Across the country. Just this week, the renewable energy India Expo is happening here in Delhi was 11 Canadian companies here, basically showcasing their Canadian technology and everything from biomass and solar to energy storage, etc.

Canada is a world leader in hydrogen fuel cell technology.

“So, they’re wanting to do more business in India, they’re wanting to develop the technology together, maybe with Indian partners. So, we’re very excited about the prospects for greater cooperation and renewable energy to help us meet our climate change goals.”

Amid the ongoing tensions, High Commissioner Mackay puts his message across for the young Indian: “In Canada, we look forward to welcoming more of them, so that they can further their education in Canada, so they can prosper in Canada so they could come back and prosper in India, and work to basically help to make both of our nations more prosperous and safe.”

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