A good idea for Canada to diversity its trading relationsips and depend less on US trade. India is no doubt weathering the recession better than the US and Canada could increase trade with India. Recent US changes with respect to providing India with nuclear technology no doubt contributed to Harper's attempts to get on the bandwagon. Pakistan may not be happy with these moves. The trip to India may also be useful in convincing Canadians with an Indian background to vote Conservative!
Harper's India tour aims to build relations, grow nuclear co-operation.
By David Akin, Canwest News Service
NEW DELHI - Prime Minister Stephen Harper wrapped up a three-day tour of India Wednesday with visits to two of the country's holiest places, the Golden Temple in Amritsar and the world's largest Hindu temple in New Delhi, where he prayed for world peace.
``I took the Swami's advice when I was in the BAPS temple and said a prayer for world peace and, of course, it's hoped for more strongly here in India than just about everywhere," Harper said, after visiting the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple.
In Amritsar, the northern Indian city that is the spiritual home of Sikhs, Harper visited the Golden Temple. Thousands were in the temple during his visit and his tour of the facility was a melee of the curious and more than 60 photographers and film crews from India trying to get close to the prime minister while yellow-robed temple guards tried to keep them away.
``They're both just fascinating spots,'' Harper said after the visit. ``It really is just overwhelming. So this was just a tremendous opportunity to see and experience the roots of so many Indo-Canadians.''
Harper also said he hopes that his trip here - which was a whirlwind of commercial, cultural, and spiritual events - is the beginning of a new relationship with the world's largest democracy.
``This trip is, in a sense, the culmination, but also the jumping-off point, '' Harper said. ``It's the culmination of lot we've been doing over the past two or three years to really try and rebuild and build up our relationship with India and get it on a different plane.''
One of the things Harper's government did to recalibrate the relationship is patch things up with India on the nuclear file. Canada had suspended nuclear relations with India in 1974 after India used Canadian technology to make its first nuclear bomb. During his visit here, Harper said a new nuclear co- operation deal between the two countries would be signed soon and he met with key representatives of India's nuclear energy sector.
``We felt in opposition and it's been our position as a party that Canada really needs to get its relationship with India to another level,'' Harper said. ``But this is, in fairness, just a stage, and much more needs to be done in the weeks and months to come. India is a rising power in the world and India has, frankly, no closer cultural and human relations with any developed country than it does with Canada.''
Conservatives in Ottawa say it could also be the beginning of a new relationship between their party and the more than one million Canadians who have their origin here.
The delegation accompanying Harper included Conservative MPs Tim Uppal from Edmonton, Patrick Brown from Barrie, Ont., Nina Grewal from Vancouver, and Calgary's Devinder Shory and Deepak Obhrai.
A group of Indo-Canadian business leaders and some reporters from Indo- Canadian broadcasters and newspapers also accompanied Harper here, at their own expense.
Harper returns to Ottawa Thursday.
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