Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Indian P.M. Modi Arrives in Ottawa for Broad Visit with Domestic Overtones

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Indian P.M. Modi Arrives in Ottawa for Broad Visit with Domestic Overtones

Article excerpt

Indian P.M. Modi begins Canadian visit today


OTTAWA - From trade, to energy, to the environment, to security, to culture, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will have no shortage of topics to discuss with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the next three days.

Harper will also have an unspoken domestic political dividend -- boosting his party's standing with Canada's 1.2 million Indo-Canadians as an October federal election looms.

After a formal meeting Wednesday, Harper will accompany the charismatic Modi to Toronto and Vancouver and will have no less than 16 fellow Conservatives appearing with them at various events, from cabinet ministers to MPs.

A number of prominent federal Conservative MPs, including Defence Minister Jason Kenney and Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre, were on hand to greet the Indian prime minister when his plane touched down Tuesday in Ottawa.

"This seems to be a win-win situation for Harper," said Roland Paris, the founding director of the University of Ottawa's Centre for International Policy Studies.

"He can promote deeper economic and diplomatic links with India while also scoring political points at home with the Indo-Canadian community."

Harper's fondness for diaspora politics is well known. His tough talk towards Russia is seen as a way of courting the 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent, for instance.

Last year Harper highlighted the pre-eminence of Indian immigration during a major speech in Toronto.

"Today, India is Canada's top source country for immigrants," he said. "And this explains why Canada's Indo-Canadian community is over 1.2 million strong and continuing to grow."

But Kasi Rao, a vice president of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, said the Indo-Canadian community is no more uniform in its voting habits than any other segment of Canadians.

"The Indo-Canadian community has made strides in all parties in Canada, federally and provincially and I think the community has now deepened in Canada," he said. …

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