Canadian PM praises India at Diwali celebration

Canadian PM Stephen Harper lavished praise on India as "South Asia`s fast-rising economic star," and as a nation with strong bonds to Canada.

Toronto: India`s path toward becoming one
of the world`s great powers cannot be blocked by small groups
of extremists who lust for vengeance, Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper has said.

"India with a billion people yearning for peace and
prosperity. In the long term, their will cannot be denied by
small groups of extremists who live in the past and lust for
vengeance," Harper said in a speech delivered at a Diwali
celebration at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday night.

"Instead, I am confident the spirit of Diwali will
prevail. The Festival of Lights illuminates the universal hope
of all peoples for the renewal of life and the triumph of good
over evil. The light of the diya will overpower the darkness
of intolerance and extremism, and guide India to its destiny
as one of the great powers of the world," he said.

"Under the leadership of Prime Minister Singh, India
has embraced the principles of democracy and free markets with
zeal unmatched in the developing world," he said.

"It has paid off with robust economic growth, rising
living standards, even during the global recession and thus
growing influence in the great councils of the world."

The prime minister lavished praise on India as "South
Asia`s fast-rising economic star," and as a nation with strong
bonds to Canada.

Harper said as we celebrate the festival of lights in
the august House the two countries have begun their talks
Tuesday for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
(CEPA) to boost their bilateral trade.

He said: "And we have launched negotiations aimed at
producing a Comprehensive Trade and Economic Partnership
Agreement. In fact, the opening session of those negotiations
was held this morning. This makes this a proud day for our
entire team."

He said: "A day that we have been patiently working
towards, ever since 2005, when the idea was first raised in
the House of Commons, by Deepak Obhrai. All these efforts
reflect two countries, destined by their shared history,
values and peoples to march into the future together, a future
of unbounded opportunities for both of us."

Commending the accomplishments of the million-strong
Indo-Canadians, Harper said the community is the driving force
behind the deepening ties between the two countries.

At Tuesday`s celebration, attended by many from the
local Indo-Canadian community, Harper spoke of how he caught a
glimpse of the future during his trip to India last year.

Harper said, during his visit, he witnessed a nation
of "extraordinary ethno-cultural diversity" with a stable
parliamentary government "committed to the principles of
freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law."

A large number of dignitaries`, including Canadian
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, Parliamentary Secretary for
Minister for Foreign Affairs Deepak Obhrai, Indian High
Commissioner to Canada SM Gavai, Indo-Canadian senator Vim
Kochhar, and Indian-origin MPs Ruby Dhalla and others attended
the function.


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