Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reaffirmed Canada’s dedication to strengthening its relationship with India, despite recent “credible allegations” of the Indian government’s involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Speaking at a press conference in Montreal, Trudeau emphasized the “extreme importance” of Canada and its allies maintaining active engagement with India, highlighting India’s growing global influence.
Trudeau underscored the need for Canada and its allies to continue engaging with India “constructively and seriously” given its rising prominence on the world stage. He acknowledged India’s status as a burgeoning economic power and an important geopolitical player. Trudeau stated, “As we presented with our Indo-Pacific strategy just last year, we’re very serious about building closer ties with India.”
However, Trudeau also emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of law, noting that India must collaborate with Canada to ensure a thorough investigation into the matter at hand. He received assurances from the United States that Secretary of State Antony Blinken would address the publicly made allegations regarding India’s involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar during a meeting with Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar in Washington, D.C.
Trudeau’s remarks underscored the seriousness with which democratic countries and those that respect the rule of law should approach the issue. He stressed that Canada and its partners would move forward in a thoughtful and responsible manner, firmly anchored in the principles of the rule of law.
The Canadian Prime Minister had previously informed the Canadian House of Commons on September 18 about the active pursuit by Canadian security agencies of “credible allegations of a potential link” between agents of the Government of India and the killing of Nijjar. Trudeau had also conveyed these concerns directly to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 Summit, ensuring that India’s top intelligence and security officials were made aware of Canada’s “deep concerns.”
It is important to note that India vehemently denied these allegations, dismissing them as both “absurd” and “motivated.” Notably, Trudeau has not presented any public evidence to substantiate his assertion regarding the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Trudeau’s remarks have further strained the already tenuous relations between the two countries. In response to his accusations of Indian involvement in the killing, India took the unprecedented step of suspending its visa services in Canada. Additionally, India issued an advisory to its citizens and travelers to Canada, urging them to exercise “utmost caution” due to “growing anti-India activities” and “politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence” in the country.
Despite the challenges and diplomatic tensions arising from these allegations, Trudeau’s commitment to strengthening ties with India underscores the significance of bilateral relations in a rapidly evolving global landscape. The future course of Canada-India relations will likely depend on continued diplomatic efforts to address these allegations and promote cooperation between the two nations on various fronts.