OTTAWA - Stephen Harper says there's room to grow when it comes to trade and investment between Canada and India.

The prime minister says the bond between the two countries is based on a common language, a federal system of government, a commitment to democracy and pluralism and shared cultural experiences.

Harper made the comments in Ottawa Thursday night, at a celebration marking an Indian holiday.

It coincides with Harper's upcoming visit to India -- this weekend, he begins a week-long trip that will also take him to the Philippines and Hong Kong.

The prime minister has his eyes on a free-trade deal with the south Asian giant.

The trip is Harper's second to India since 2009.

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  • Diyas

    The word Diwali, comes from the Sankrit <em>Deepavali</em>, meaning rows of light. Lighting diyas or clay lamps is an important Diwali tradition. In this photo, a Sri Lankan Tamil devotee offer prayers while holding an oil lamp during Diwali, or the festival of lights, at a Hindu temple in Colombo on October 26, 2011. The Hindu festival of light, Diwali, marks the homecoming of the God Lord Ram after vanquishing the demon king Ravana and symbolises taking people from darkness to light in the victory of good over evil. (Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • On Diwali Eve

    Indian Hindu woman Rishitha poses with candles at the entrance to her home on the eve of Diwali, the festival of lights, in Hyderabad on October 25, 2011. Indians throughout the country are celebrating Diwali on October 26. (NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Buying Gold Jewellery

    <em>Dhanteras</em> is the first day of Diwali. On this day, traditionally, most Hindus buy precious metals like gold with the belief that it would invoke prosperity. In this photo, Indian women are shown buying gold jewellery at a shop in New Delhi on Oct. 15, 2009 (Raveendran / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Preparing Sweets

    <em>Naraka Chaturdashi</em> is the second day of Diwali. This was the day on which the demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna, signifying the victory of good over evil. This is a festive day when people go shopping for clothes and buy sweets and other delicacies. In this photo, Indian chef Parmanand prepares sweets at a kitchen in Amritsar on Oct. 18, 2011 (Narinder Nanu / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Honoring Dogs

    In Nepal, the festival of Diwali is known as <em>Tihar</em>. On the second day of <em>Tihar</em>, dogs are honored and blessed. In this photo, Nepalese policemen pose with their dogs after applying vermillion to their foreheads and placing marigold garlands around their necks (Prakash Mathema / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Preparing Earthen Lamps

    The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit <em>Deepavali</em>, meaning rows of lamps. During Diwali, people all over the world celebrate by lighting earthenware oil lamps, commemorating the homecoming of Lord Rama and symbolizing the victory of good over evil. In this photo, a Nepalese potter makes lamps in preparation for Diwali (Prakash Mathema / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Painting Earthen Lamps

    Painting the earthen lamps in various bright colors is a common practice. In this photo, Indian laborer Raman dips earthen lamps into red paint in Amritsar ahead of Diwali (Narinder Nanu / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Decorating Earthen Lamp

    In this photo, a woman decorates an earthen lamp in preparation for Diwali (Indranil Mukherjee / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Lighting Lamps

    In this photo, an Indian women places earthen lamps during Diwali in Siliguri on Nov. 5, 2010 (Diptendu Dutta / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Murtis of Deities Lakshmi and Ganesh

    On the third day of Diwali, Lakshmi the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, along with Ganesh, the God of auspiciousness, are worshipped by many Hindus. They are worshipped primarily for auspiciousness and to bring wealth and prosperity to homes. On this day, typically homes are cleaned, <em>rangolis</em> (colorful floor decorations) are drawn and oil lamps are lit outside homes. In this photo, an Indian artist Mulee paints a murti (statue) of the Goddess Lakshmi (Narinder Nanu / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Murti of Goddess Lakshmi

    In this photo, a customer holds a murti of the Goddess Lakshmi (Noah Seelam / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Murti of Goddess Kali

    On the third day of Diwali, Kali, the Goddess of Time, is worshipped in many parts of eastern India, particularly in West Bangal and Assam. In this photo, an Indian artist works on a semi-finished clay murti of the Goddess Kali (Diptendu Dutta / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Preparing Firecrackers

    Firecrackers are a major part of Diwali celebrations in India and all over the world. In this photo, laborers work at a firecracker factory on the outskirts of Siliguri on Oct. 17, 2011 (Diptendu Dutta / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Fireworks!

    In this photo, an Indian boy plays with fireworks during Diwali in Hyderabad on November 5, 2010 (Noah Seelam / AFP / Getty Images).

  • New Financial Year

    Following the agrarian harvest cycle, Diwali is also the end of the financial year, and the beginning of a new one for many Indian Hindu businessmen. <em>Chopda Pujan</em> is a religious ritual practiced by many in the Hindu business community, where account books are kept for puja (prayers) on the day of Diwali and blessings are sought from Hindu deities Lakshmi and Ganesh. In this photo, businessmen participate in <em>Chopda Pujan</em> (worshipping of account books) during Diwali (Sam Panthanky / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Diwali at the Stock Exchange

    In this photo, family members and Indian stock traders pray before a special trading session on the occasion of Diwali, inside the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in Mumbai on October 17, 2009 (Sajjad Hussain /AFP/Getty Images).

  • Muslim Students in India Celebrate Diwali

    Students from the Anjuman-E-Islam School pose with placards and candles featuring a 'Happy Diwali' message in Ahmedabad on November 4, 2010, on the eve of Diwali (Sam Panthanky / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Illuminated Akshardham Temple

    The illuminated Akshardham Temple is seen during Diwali in Gandhinagar, some 30 kms from Ahmedabad, on the occasion of Diwali on October 17, 2009 (Sam Panthanky / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Diwali at the White House

    Diwali is celebrated in many parts of the world, ranging from the United States to South Africa to Singapore. In this photo, U.S. President Barack Obama (L) bows to Sri Narayanachar Digalakote, Hindu Priest from the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Maryland, after lighting an oil lamp in observance of Diwali (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images).

  • United Kingdom

    In this photo, people in London mill around Leicester city center to celebrate Diwali (STR / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Singapore

    In this photo, shoppers brow through a market specially set up for Deepavali in Little India, Singapore 19 October 2006 (Theresa Barraclough / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Pakistan

    Preparing <em>rangolis</em> (colorful floor decorations made of sand or rice) are a very popular decoration theme during Diwali. In this photo, Pakistani Hindu devotees light earthen lamps around a rangoli on the occasion of Diwali in Karachi on October 17, 2009 (Asif Hassan / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Sri Lanka

    In this photo, Sri Lankan Hindus receive blessings from a priest holding a lighted oil lamp during Diwali, or the festival of lights, at a Hindu temple in Colombo on November 5, 2010 (Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AFP / Getty Images).

  • South Africa

    In this photo, 12-year-old Hindu devotee Latoya Khaba lights a clay lamp in Durban, South Africa to celebrate Diwali (Rajesh Jantilal / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Devotee Dips in the Water at the Golden Temple

    Diwali is also a sacred day for Sikhs. This day is known as <em>Bandi Chhor Divas</em>, meaning prisoners' release day. This day symbolizes the Sikh struggle for freedom from the oppressive Mughal regime. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas to mark the return of the sixth Guru Hargobind Ji. He was freed from imprisonment in 1619 by Mughal Emperor Jahangir and managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time. In this photo, a Sikh devotee takes a dip in the holy <em>sarover</em> (water bank) at the Sikh shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on Nov. 5, 2010 (Narinder Nanu / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Devotees Light Candles

    In this photo, Indian Sikh devotees light candles at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Nov. 5, 2010 on the occasion of <em>Bandi Chhor Divas</em> or Diwali (Narinder Nanu / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Religious Warrior Pays Respects

    In this photo, Baba 'Avtar' Singh, a member of the traditional Sikh religious warriors' Nihang Army, clad in a 300 meter-long turban poses as he pays his respects at the illuminated Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 4, 2010, on the eve of the festival of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali (Narinder Nanu / AFP / Getty Images).

  • Buffalo Fight

    <em>Govardhan Puja</em> is the fourth day of Diwali. Also known as <em>Annakut</em>, meaning heap of grain, it is celebrated as the day when Lord Krishna taught the message that one should honor and respect nature. Buffalo fight is an age-old tradition organized on the occasion of <em>Govardhan Puja</em>. In this photo, thousands of residents watch a traditional buffalo fight in Ujjain, India (AP Photo).

  • Brothers and Sisters Honor Each Other

    The fifth day of Diwali is known as <em>Bhaiduj</em>. On this day, brothers and sisters meet to express their love and affection for each other, and wish each other a safe and good life. In this photo, Nepalese women pay respects to their brothers (Prakash Mathema / AFP / Getty Images).