Rejuvenating Canada-India Relations Will Help Us Meet Global Challenges

The 44th legislature will have to face new challenges and opportunities unimaginable by the previous one, elected just two years ago. China and the Indo-Pacific are intertwined parts of a very different international landscape, and there is good reason to reassess Canada’s foreign policy priorities.

After concluding his hostage hostilities with Canada, Chinese President Xi Jinping began to reinvent Chinese history, building a vision for a decoupled dual-traffic international economic order, imbued with much more militant ambitions. . The United States is increasingly focusing on climate change and the environment, which has significant implications for Canadian energy interests – the foundation of our economy. The Pakistan-backed Taliban have returned to power in Afghanistan, and a historic peace deal is in place between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The world is increasingly focusing on the Indo-Pacific to meet these global challenges. The United States, Japan, India and Australia are leading their Quadrilateral security dialogue to meet the technological challenges and the broader Indo-Pacific supply chain. A new Quad is born between Israel, United Arab Emirates, United States and India to solve the problems on the shores of the Middle East and Red Sea region.

Canada’s presence in the Pacific has been characterized by humanitarian assistance, diaspora relations and, more recently, strategic naval exercises. Yet Canada’s relationship with China faces headwinds that are likely to only get worse. Hostage diplomacy and economic coercion have rightly shaken Canada’s confidence in its engagement with China. Countering China is increasingly a major concern for Canada’s essential alliances.

Canada has been preparing for years lack a clear and coherent Indo-Pacific strategy to guide its actions. Neither Canadians nor the world know where Canada stands on many issues of national and international importance that have long-term implications. The case of 5G network technology is the best example – to date Canada is the only country in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance that did not ban Huawei.

This indecision has a bad image of Canada and undermines confidence in our ability to be a world player. Increasingly, Canada is excluded from all the major global partnerships created or proposed by our allies in recent years, from Quad to AUKUS. Our global importance is diminishing.

Justin Trudeau now has the opportunity to reorient our global engagement to better align with a world centered on the Indo-Pacific. India is a vital partner in this endeavor – a gateway to the Indo-Pacific – and it is significant that each major ally is boldly strengthening its ties with India. Everything India offers – a large market, a rule-based order, a young population – is central to Canada’s domestic needs and national interests. Yet Canada-India relations remain at an all-time low, despite the long-standing ties between the two.

Unlike authoritarian China, India represents a partner who shares Canadian values ​​and interests. A vibrant multicultural federation with a strong and professional army that has faced intense Chinese aggression, India should be the key to Canada’s pivot to the Indo-Pacific.

Canada should refocus its foreign policy in Asia by favoring ties with India. Concretely, a ministerial dialogue must be renewed between our respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense.

The two countries worked on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to more than a decade. Canada can show its seriousness by speeding up talks and signing a series of sectoral trade agreements – from energy security to education, and from seas to space.

While the two countries also share security concerns, the defense ties between them are modest. Both have a Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism, and outfit initial conferences on cold climate warfare and defense research. Strengthening the bilateral and regional security partnership should be a priority. The marines of Canada and India have conducted anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden for over a decade. Joint patrols, basic agreements and expanded naval exercises in Indo-Pacific waters with India and other Quad members should be given priority.

It is time for Canada to redefine its foreign policy priorities. Rejuvenating Canada’s relations with India should be Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly’s top priority.

Shuvaloy Majumdar is Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Foreign Policy Program. Vijay Sappani is a member of the Institute and Observer Research Foundation Canada India Strategic Dialogue.

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