Canada and India must forge stronger trade, investment and educational ties to build a more productive friendship, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said.
"Canada stands besides India as a steadfast and faithful friend," Harper said in a message to a function organised by Panorama India to commemorate India's 61st Republic Day celebration in Toronto.
Outlining the many historical, cultural, social and economic ties between the two countries, Harper said, "These bonds are a solid foundation upon which we can build an even stronger, more productive friendship."
The prime minister's message that was read by lawmaker Bob Dechert said the two countries must forge stronger ties in the filed of trade, investment and education, pointing out that Canada and India have a strong shared belief in the values of liberty, pluralism and religious tolerance.
He said his country would not be the same without its strong bond with India and outstanding contributions made by the Indo-Canadian community in the economic development.
With two-way trade approaching $5 billion, Indo-Canada relations have strengthened over the past few years, Preeti Saran, India's Consul General in Toronto, said and added that both countries were committed to fight against terrorism.
"Both countries are united, as free and democratic nations, in an effort to defeat those who pursue political violence against innocent people," Saran said.
Saran said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was expected to visit Toronto to attend the G-20 submit in June this year, the dates, however, were yet to be finalised.
Several members of parliament including Gurbax Singh Malhi, Ruby Dhalla and Bonnie Crombie; Harinder Takhar, Ontario Minister for Small Scale Industries and government services Vim Kochhar, newly appointed Indo-Canadian senator to Canada's Upper House; Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Hazel McCallion, Mayer of Mississauga also paid tributes on the occasion.
Calling India "a modern global success story", Vim Kochhar, the first ever Indo-Canadian to become a member of Senate, said that "astonishing" pace of change, dynamism and excitement India was generating was a tribute to all Indians.
As part of the event, Ferzana Bohra was crowned Panorama India's first 'Indian Idol'.Panorama India, which organised the event, strives to showcase Indian culture and strengthen ties between the various cultural organisations of India in Canada as well as strengthens ties between the two countries.