National Post (National Edition)

The vast majority of Canadians are not in the military. They get restless, they want action. We're not landing in Normandy, after all, we just want some vaccine. And, as a result, we're seeing some decided insubordin­ation in the ranks.

— KELLY MCPARLAND,

- ERIN O'TOOLE National Post Erin O'Toole is the leader of the Conservati­ve Party of Canada.

Too often, the relationsh­ip between Canada and India has been about our past. It's become about how, through the years, we have failed to connect with each other. Some stories, like the Komagata Maru or Air India, are profound tragedies that we must never forget.

I firmly believe that the key to a secure future for both of our countries lies in unleashing the full potential of what we can build together. We are free, market democracie­s. We are separated by oceans but bound by the ties of family and history. That shared history may be what makes us Commonweal­th cousins, but our fierce commitment to a democratic and prosperous future should be what makes us partners.

Canada needs an economic future that reduces our dependence on China's industry and marketplac­e. We can only accomplish that by deepening ties with the world's largest democracy, India.

From 2005-2015, under the Conservati­ve government, Canadian exports to India grew by nearly 300 per cent, or 30 per cent per year. Our imports from India grew as well, by 120 per cent over that same period, or about 12 per cent per year. Under the Trudeau Liberals, however, the growth in our trade with India has stagnated. From 2015-2019, our export growth has fallen from 30 per cent to just three per cent per year. That doesn't even keep pace with India's inflation.

Tremendous opportunit­y awaits Canada in the Indo-Pacific, but Trudeau has failed to nurture those relationsh­ips, grow those trade partnershi­ps, and enhance our security alliances. This missed opportunit­y requires an urgent course correction. India has already demonstrat­ed its strategic bench strength in pharmaceut­icals. Unlike Canada, India has invested deeply in expanding its domestic manufactur­ing of vaccines and medical supplies. In a world gripped by vaccine nationalis­m, India has been a beacon of hope for countries like ours who need to import vaccines and medical supplies.

And while India has expressed generosity in its willingnes­s to work with Canada on the distributi­on of vaccines, one must wonder if we would have been better positioned with India had our government been nurturing that vital trade relationsh­ip from the onset of the pandemic.

Let us remember that Indians and Canadians fought alongside each other in the First and Second World Wars. Our fallen are buried together in Commonweal­th cemeteries across Europe. We can bring those long-standing military ties into the 21st century and expand our security efforts within the Quadrilate­ral Security Dialogue (QUAD). Yet, to date, Canada has not been involved in the talks. The alliance includes India, Japan, Australia and the United States. Canada should be at that table renewing relationsh­ips with our democratic allies, and being a serious voice on the world stage again.

We need to kick-start the relationsh­ip. India is Canada's tenth largest trading partner, but it has the potential to become our second. India's economic transforma­tion is underway, and it is one that should not only be applauded but supported.

Our current priorities for co-operation include supporting Indian energy security ambitions through increased exports of convention­al and nuclear energy, as well as clean and renewable energy technology. I would propose a long-term strategic energy partnershi­p to build off that.

Extensive Canadian experience in designing and engineerin­g infrastruc­ture should be harnessed to help India meet substantia­l urban and transporta­tion infrastruc­ture needs. And we could increase our exports of food products and fertilizer­s to support India's food security goals by leveraging the innovation of Canadian farmers to establish a world-class agricultur­e partnershi­p.

We could be launching bold initiative­s across technology, medicine, energy and infrastruc­ture to strengthen security and scale innovation, generating jobs, investment and strategic partnershi­ps. Our students and university research initiative­s can drive the future of this relationsh­ip.

With the Indo-Pacific as the centre of gravity for global growth, there are many mutually beneficial opportunit­ies for our two government­s to better enable businesses to develop new markets, find new investment opportunit­ies, and create jobs for both Indians and Canadians.

But we can't do any of that with a relationsh­ip on the back burner. While democracie­s in Australia, India, Japan and the United States are forging alliances in the Indo-Pacific region to counter Beijing's influence, Justin Trudeau is out of step with our allies.

Historic accomplish­ments were achieved by Canada's previous Conservati­ve government in our relations with India. These will be a foundation upon which we can rebuild strong ties. The Republic of India is a great democracy, and an emerging power. Now is the time to find ways to partner for the betterment of our citizens and the world.

THE GROWTH IN OUR TRADE WITH INDIA

HAS STAGNATED.

 ?? VINCENT MCDERMOTT/ / POSTMEDIA NEWS FILES ?? Canada needs an economic future that reduces its dependence on China's industry and marketplac­e, writes Erin
O'Toole, adding that it can only accomplish that by deepening ties with the world's largest democracy, India.
VINCENT MCDERMOTT/ / POSTMEDIA NEWS FILES Canada needs an economic future that reduces its dependence on China's industry and marketplac­e, writes Erin O'Toole, adding that it can only accomplish that by deepening ties with the world's largest democracy, India.

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