New Delhi: As India celebrates 75 years of diplomatic ties with Canada, Canadian High Commissioner H.E. Cameron MacKay, in an exclusive conversation, speaks of India’s G-20 presidency among other issues. Excerpts:
Q: India is leading the G-20 charge for the year 2023 and we look forward to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s participation during the September 2023 summit. How can it be leveraged for improving diplomatic and trade ties between both nations?
A: “One Earth, One Family, One Future”—what a great model for India’s G-20 year. Canada fully supports India’s G-20 leadership over the next year. India will absolutely be on the world stage all year over 200 meetings across this amazing country. Many Canadians coming to visit at all levels, including ultimately of course, Prime Minister Trudeau will be back for the summit in September. We really look forward to working with India, on all of that. The world is facing so many important challenges right now, an energy crisis, food security crisis, inflation in many countries, war and invasion. There’s a lot to talk on the global stage and we want to work with India on that.
Q: India’s role as a global leader cannot be discounted, whether it is about its mammoth vaccine drive, digitisation or acting as the negotiator between the Global South and the West over Ukraine at the recently culminated Bali G-20 summit. Has the world started accepting India as a global leader in resolving various challenges?
A: Well, India has a huge task in front of it over the next year to try to bring together a global focus on all of these challenges that I mentioned in particular but it is absolutely up to the task. We look forward to the leadership of the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Modi, Foreign Minister Jaishankar, the Sherpa Amitabh Kant and Harsh Shringla, pulling it all together and making things happen. You just couldn’t have a better leadership team to face all these challenges.
Q: Are there certain specific deals, MOUs and agreements that are on the table to be signed on the side-lines of the G-20 summit with the bilateral talks that will happen between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and PM Trudeau?
A: Well, the summit is still nine months away. I can only say that I think we’re all trying to think as creatively as possible in terms of what is it that we can achieve between now and then, that our leaders can discuss at that time that will take our relationship to the next level. There will absolutely be some good news at that time exactly what it will be we’ll know next September.
Q: India and Canada celebrate 75 years of historic and diplomatic ties this year. How do you envisage the next 25 years of these ties between both nations?
A: We’ve had 75 years of warm, excellent growing relations between the two countries and the first thing I think of when I think of the last 75 years is the next 25. Where will India be at its 100th anniversary and frankly I and I know other Canadians are very excited about the prospect of India becoming even more prosperous in the next 25 years.
Q: Fringe elements are trying to disrupt the bilateral ties between both nations. There are instances of gurdwaras and temples in Canada being attacked and destroyed. When we talk about the agendas of fundamentalist, extremist groups like Sikhs for Justice, they continue to grab attention, domestically and internationally. How can these problems be ironed out?
A: Whenever there are issues or tensions between communities in any country, it’s the responsibility of political leaders to lead and to speak out against those tensions, and to try to keep calm and peace in the land. So there’s very much a political responsibility there. There’s also responsibility for law enforcement officers, you mentioned attacks on temples in Canada, there were some, there were three arrests just this last spring and you did see political leaders absolutely speak out. When these things happen, it’s important for us to act and I think Canada is doing so. The Toronto Police Service was very clear in September. They monitor acts of hate, there are acts of hate in Canada as there are in every country, but there’s been no uptick in in that statistically in Canada. We think that Canada remains a very safe place for people from all over the world to build better lives.