India, Canada ties hit new low after PM Trudeau’s latest remarks
PM Justin Trudeau said the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar is a 'problem' in the bilateral ties

at 1:08 am
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau
File pic of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

New Delhi, May 2: With Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau terming the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar as a “problem” in bilateral ties and also saying that Canadian citizens are free to support whichever party they like even if it “irritates” India, New Delhi on Thursday said his remarks once again “illustrate the political space given in Canada to separatism, extremism, and violence”.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal, in his briefing, said: “Prime Minister Trudeau has made such remarks earlier as well. His remarks illustrate once again the political space that has been given in Canada to separatism, extremism, and violence.”

He said that such remarks not only “impacts India-Canada relations but also encourages a climate of violence and criminality in Canada to the detriment of its own citizens”.

In a press briefing on Sunday to a group of Indo-Canadians, Prime Minister Trudeau referred to the killing of Nijjar outside a gurudwara in Surrey, British Columbia, in June last year, and said:

“…To know that there are credible reasons to believe that agents of the government of India were involved in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil, is a real problem. It’s a problem for the rules-based order and the principles of free open democracies and sovereignty that we stand for. It’s also a problem in our relations with India, because we cannot ignore that…”

“…India is an important partner to Western democracies; We want to get through this challenging situation, but there needs to be accountability and there needs to be understanding that respecting rules and the law and the sovereignty of Canada and of Canadian citizens, regardless of the politics in Canada.

“Canadian citizens are free to believe and support the political parties they want around the world; that may be an irritation for the Indian government, but that is part and parcel of being Canadian. You get to support whatever beliefs you have, that’s what make Canada a free country,” Trudeau said.

The Canadian PM’s comments were made on the sidelines after attending a Khalsa Day event in Toronto that saw a large presence of pro-Khalistan elements, who raised anti-India banners and separatist flags and shouted Khalistani slogans when Trudeau was on the dais.

India on Monday summoned the Canadian deputy high commissioner and lodged a strong protest with him over the raising of pro-Khalistan slogans at the event in the presence of Trudeau and other leaders, including Trudeau’s rival Conservative Party’s Pierre Poilievre and Jagmeet Singh of the New Democratic Party (NDP). Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow was also present at the event.

The ties between India and Canada have come under severe strain following Trudeau’s allegations in September last year of the “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar.

New Delhi has rejected the charges as “absurd”.