Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is suggesting the prime minister needs more to show for his first official visit to India than two-way investment deals worth a combined $1 billion.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, is signalling those deals he announced at the Canada-India Mumbai Business Forum this week will be his answer to questions on what he accomplished during the eight-day trip.
Scheer appeared on The Andrew Lawton Show on 980 CFPL in London, Ont. Wednesday, where he was asked about Trudeau's visit, which some Tories have derided as a family "vacation."
Scheer was quick to note that while Trudeau brought along several cabinet ministers, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay is not part of the delegation. Tories say they wanted MacAulay there to discuss import taxes India slapped on chickpeas and lentils before Christmas and raised earlier this month.
The Tory leader seemingly tried to pour cold water on the investment deals Trudeau is touting, by noting that Canadian companies will invest $750 million in India, while Canada is "only receiving $250 million back."
"So, it's hard to see what the point, what the objective was on this trip," Scheer said. "We'll be asking some questions when he comes back into the House about what the achievables were."
When pressed if he views $1 billion in trade as something at which to scoff, Scheer responded: "Did this happen because he went there? I doubt it."
Deals don't depend on the people involved, he said, but "whether or not Canada has something to offer."
The Tory leader was also asked about the perception in some international media that India Prime Minister Narendra Modi snubbed Trudeau by sending his minister of state for agriculture to greet Trudeau's family when they arrived in New Delhi Saturday. While it isn't protocol, Modi has greeted other leaders in the past. Much has also been made of the fact that the social media savvy Modi has not yet tweeted anything about Trudeau's visit.
Scheer said Trudeau's "supposedly high-level trip to India" hasn't yielded high-level meetings.
However, Trudeau met with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Wednesday and will hold discussions with Modi Friday. When Global News asked Trudeau this week if he felt snubbed by his Indian counterpart, he said he recently chatted with Modi in Davos and a "number of times" in other places.
Trudeau, his family and ministers have sported traditional Indian outfits while visiting a number of different Indian landmarks, such as the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple. They also sparked buzz by meeting with Bollywood celebrities.
Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, tweeted that the "choreographed cuteness" was a bit much.
"FYI we Indians don't dress like this every day sir, not even in Bollywood," he wrote.
At a press conference in New Delhi Wednesday, Trudeau was asked what he would tell those who might think his trip is really about diaspora politics and "winning votes." Canada is home to an estimated 1.4 million people of Indian origin.
Trudeau said the Canada-India investment deals he announced will create nearly 6,000 jobs in Canada and were "a direct result of the meetings and initiatives we launched here."
From the outset, Trudeau said, the trip was focused on "deepening ties between the two friends of Canada and India" and showcasing business opportunities.
With a file from The Canadian Press
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