Based on a Transcript
My wife and I are pleased to be here. I know there are other parliamentarians and they have been introduced, and I think the Honourable Peter Kent [Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)] just arrived also.
Ladies and gentlemen, our recent trade mission to India has been one of my all-time highlights. It was an amazing and exciting time. I got to meet, of course, with Prime Minister [Manmohan] Singh. Now this was a couple of months before the [recent] election. I think it was two days after I visited him, he was admitted to the hospital for heart problems. I thought, I hope my visit had nothing to do with that, but we assured him that he would be in our thoughts and prayers. We are very pleased with his recovery and of course, politically, things seem to have worked out also. I don’t get into elections, picking sides in other countries, but it is great to know there is continuity there. I met with the Minister of Science and Technology [Kapil Sibal], whom you saw on the screen a moment ago, and also the former Minister of Commerce and Industry [Kamal Nath] and the National Security Adviser [M. K. Narayanan].
To me, the opportunities are so incredible. I don’t have to tell you that. You are already aware of it. So much can be done at every level between Canada, between India, at the university level, at the business level, and we are excited to see these things move along. I was very pleased to attend the opening of two new trade offices while I was there, one in Hyderabad, one in Calcutta. I was pleased to sit down with Minister Nath at the time, and designate officials on each side, in Canada and in India, to start work on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement. These are detailed things that take a while, but I was so pleased to see that move ahead.
There are companies in Canada and India that are working back and forth [between the two countries], and that have been working for long periods of time already, and we are seeing results. In 2008, our bilateral merchandise trade went up 22 percent over the year before, and that was including the numbers coming in from the end of 2008, and as you know, there is somewhat of an economic downturn going on, we are told. Even with the downturn, we saw that particular increase and we hope, and we know, that it will continue.
What a thrill it was for me to be in one of the busiest transit and train stations in the world, and to be taken to the nerve centre of that particular operation. And there is an incredible computerized network that is up on the board, and every subway train, every train through New Delhi, that huge city, is monitored in an amazing high-tech way, and it was a Canadian company that had installed it, and to realize that here in Canada, whether we are talking of Essar [Steel Algoma] or Tata [Industries] or ICICI [Bank] and others, it is incredible the links that have already been established.
Now I have to say a couple of highlights [of the trip]. To be able, for a short period of time, to watch a cricket match. Okay, now I know there are some doubters in the crowd, but I played cricket when I was in junior high. Those of you who know cricket will understand about the excitement of a match. When you are playing and the bat cracks, and that ball comes off the end of that bat at about 100 kilometres an hour, and you are not wearing a glove, and that cork filled ball is coming at you at the speed of a rocket, it is very exciting. And it was exciting to watch some of the best players in the world; it was a thrill for me.
Now there was also something else exciting. Driving in some of the biggest cities in the world. I had been warned about the traffic. They talked about the traffic—and with tremendous respect and regards for what the Premier [of Ontario] has done, not just in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) but throughout Ontario for getting infrastructure dollars, and you have done some amazing things there, Premier—I mean have you ever driven in the GTA at rush hour? But of course, in India, in some of the largest cities, and for those of you who may not have had this wonderful experience, it is about 10 lanes in one direction. I think there are markers, I think the lanes are marked, but those are strictly suggestions and the traffic is so tight, and the side mirrors have been removed from most cars. That is how tight it is.
But after a couple of days, I realized, they have it figured out. And I can tell you honestly, in an afternoon of driving through and around New Delhi, I saw [fewer] traffic accidents than I see in an afternoon of driving around Penticton, British Columbia. I’m serious. There is a method there, and it seems to work and, you know, it is that method and it is that ability to transport energy like that that is really, through the people of India, driving the tremendous progress that is going on in that country. It is fantastic. India has one of the fastest-growing middle classes in the world. We share a common parliamentary history, we share a common language, we share so many citizens. The opportunities ahead are fantastic and I’m looking forward to the ongoing work and associations that we can do with great anticipation and, frankly, with great joy.
Now I would like to make an announcement. You know, officials had said, “No, these announcements, make them in Ottawa. They are Ottawa kind of funding announcements.” And I said, you know, I’m going to be at this amazing dinner tonight, this gala, the movers and shakers of the world are going to be there, and I think we should make the announcements here. And Premier, you know what it is like when officials have one thing in mind and you have another thing in mind, and you have to sometimes arm-wrestle it a bit. But I’m pleased to make an announcement of four projects, joint projects between Canada and India. These four projects total $6.7 million, and they will lead to tremendous results in the field of health sciences.
The first project—and just listen to the links between institutions here and institutions in India—the first project is to deal with the non-invasive detection of tumours using PET [positron emission tomography] and MRI [magnetic resonance imaging]. That is all I can remember on that one, but the partners here are AUG Signals and the Hospital for Sick Children, and [in India] SoftTeam Solutions (P) Ltd., Chennai, Christian Medical College and Hospital and Dr. Kamakshi Memorial Hospital. Isn’t it fantastic, the links there in that particular project?
Also part of this $6.7-million announcement, the second project is a rapid diagnostic and screening technology for head and neck cancers using panels of biomarkers. I’m not going to pretend to understand the complexities of this—but it will allow for some real progress and some breakthroughs in this particular type of cancer detection. The partners are York University, Mount Sinai Hospital, XPhase Pharmaceuticals and Fisher Scientific. They will also be partnering with the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Dr. B.R.A. [Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital and Centre for Dental Education and Research] and IMGENEX India.
The third project is a cost-effective diagnostic test for HIV and other types of similar, related health challenges. The partners here are the Centre for Global Health, bioLytical Laboratories and the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion and [in India] St. John’s Research Institute and Kentropy Technologies, partnering with similar institutes. This will allow for great breakthroughs and progress in the treatment of those diseases.
The final project, the fourth one, is a partnership to investigate anti-malarial treatments, and we believe we will see real progress [in that area]. The partners here are the University Health Network and Therapure Biopharma and [in India] International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, and Lifecare Innovations.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to make these announcements. These are just a few of the exciting partnerships that we will continue to see in the future as we engage between here and between India in those things that matter most to people. And we will see the ongoing increase in standard of living in both of our countries, productivity, innovation, technology, all the things that lead to a better life. Thank you so much to each of you who are such a vital part of this.