Home Interviews “India and Canada are made for each other”

“India and Canada are made for each other”

Jess Dutton

Jess DuttonIn an interview with Diplomacy & Beyond, Deputy High Commissioner of Canada to India, Mr Jess Dutton, shares his vision on furthering the relationship between the two countries in the area of trade, investment, sustainable development and foreign policy. He also explains why India is such a significant partner for Canada. Here are the edited excerpts…

  1. Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada last year was the first standalone tour by an Indian Prime Minister in more than 40 years. Don’t you think political leaders from both countries should visit each other more often?

We were thrilled to have Indian Prime Minister visit Canada. It was a historic visit. He travelled to three different cities, and was incredibly well received by Canadians. We will of course welcome that the Indian Prime Minister visits Canada as much as possible. India is a very important partner for Canada. Our previous Prime Minister had also visited India at least twice. In the past 20 years, almost all our Prime Ministers have taken an opportunity to visit India. We encourage such visits and think it’s really important to solidify the bilateral relationship. Leaders of both countries also take advantage of meetings such as G20, Nuclear Security Summit and others to find an opportunity to discuss global and bilateral issues.

  1. When are we expecting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s India visit?

As you may know, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India at the last Nuclear Security Summit in New York. Our Prime Minister accepted the request and we are thrilled about it. We are currently working with the Indian Government to find a suitable time for the tour.

  1. The incumbent Cabinet in Canada comprises of many Indian faces. Also, High Commissioner of Canada to India His Excellency Nadir Patel comes from a Gujarati-background and so does the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Do you consider it as a huge asset for the Indo-Canada bilateral relations?

The election of 19 members of Parliament, then induction of ministers in the Cabinet and also appointment of High Commissioner to India just show the impact that the Indian Diaspora has in Canada, in all walks of life, whether it is academics, politics or government. It’s a sign how much this Diaspora of 1.2 million strong and growing contributes towards Canada.

  1. What are the positive changes that you see since the new government has come up in Canada not only in terms of your country but also with respect to relations with rest of the world?

I have been amazed to see the kind of warm reception that our Prime Minister receives where ever he travels across the world. There are crowds of people who want to see him and meet him. I think that is due to a very positive message that is coming from Canada especially at a time when the whole world is facing challenges such as migrant crisis, Brexit and others. Canada welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees recently. Justin Trudeau became country’s first Prime Minister to walk a Pride parade in Toronto while in office. I think this kind of message is a sign of hope that diversity is strength. The world hears it loud and clear. In terms of relationship with India, Prime Minister Modi summed it up well when he said that India and Canada are made for each other. Our new government recognizes it. One of the major things that our Prime Minister did is that he made the mandate letter to his ministers public. India is present in these mandate letters, which itself shows how important India is to Canada.

  1. With a best-in-class manufacturing industry and renowned civil transportation authority, Canada’s civil aviation sector is a world leader. What are Canada’s plans with respect to “Make in India” program? Also discuss if Canada is planning to participate in India’s “Smart Cities” program.

Our two governments just signed MoU for cooperation in the aviation sector. We think Canada can contribute immensely in this sector. In terms of “Make in India”, we do make in India. We have a number of companies that are making in India. McCain Foods Ltd. and Bombardier Transportation are two of them. We have a good track record in that sense. We are encouraging Canadian companies to look at priorities of the Indian government and see where we can meet their needs. Talking about “Smart Cities”, Canadian companies are world leaders in many different areas such as water management, conceptual design and the list goes on. So, Canadian companies are engaged with different cities in India on improving urban infrastructure and making them smarter.

  1. How is Canada helping budding entrepreneurs in India to expand globally?

Canada has one of the most vibrant start-up communities in the world. Its efficient innovation system actively involves the solution-driven collaboration between our researchers, investors and industry partners that can successfully translate innovative research into technology deployment. A number of Canadian accelerators such as Ryerson’s Zone Startup in Mumbai have contributed a great deal to the innovation partnerships between Canada and India through their respective programs in support of budding entrepreneurs to expand globally.

  1. Canada is an attractive destination for Indian students and professionals. Are there any plans with the present Canadian government to further ease the visa and immigration policy for Indians?

In 2014, 38,341 Indian citizens became permanent residents in Canada. India was the second biggest source country (after Philippines) for immigrants. Over 25,000 study permits were issued to young Indians in 2014. This is a six-fold increase from 2005 and represents the attractiveness of Canada as a study destination for young Indians. We are receiving record numbers of study permit applications in 2016. There are 10 Visa Application Centres (VACs) in India: Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Jalandhar, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune. Applications can also be made online, with the advantage that you are only deprived of your passport at the end of the process for a day or two when the visa is ready, an important consideration for frequent travellers and others who need their passports during the processing period. CAN+ was launched in India in July 2014 to expedite processing for Indians who have travelled to Canada or the United States of America within the last 10 years. Launched in January 2015, Express Entry is a new application management system for skilled workers. Candidates who meet the minimum criteria will be accepted into a pool. The highest ranking skilled workers will be invited to apply for permanent residence and most will see their application processed in six months or less. The first Express Entry visa was issued in India in May 2015.The Start-up Visa program is targeting the immigrant entrepreneur who has the potential to build innovative companies that can compete on a global scale and create jobs.