Canada delays trade mission to India amid diplomatic tensions

Trudeau Defends Freedom of Expression Amid Sikh Protest Controversy

Canada has postponed its October trade mission to India, further straining relations between the two nations. Although no official reason has been given for the delay, a spokesperson for Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng, Shanti Cosentino, confirmed the change. The postponement comes after stalled negotiations over a trade deal, with Indian officials citing objections to “political developments in Canada” as the cause.

Trade talks hit roadblocks: Trade discussions between Canada and India have encountered several hurdles recently. During the G20 summit in New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi notably declined to hold a formal bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a move perceived as a diplomatic snub. Modi also privately expressed concerns to Trudeau about Canada’s handling of Sikh protests. In June, a controversial parade float in Brampton, Ontario, depicting the assassination of Indira Gandhi, stirred controversy. The Indian government condemned the float as a celebration of separatist violence.

Concerns over anti-India activities: The Indian government has voiced “strong concerns about continuing anti-India activities” in Canada. It cited “extremist elements” inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises, and threatening the Indian community in Canada. However, Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau has defended the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest while vowing to push back against hatred. Despite Trudeau’s reassurances, the protests’ controversy has strained Indian-Canadian relations.

Trade negotiations paused: On September 1, Canada made a surprising decision to pause trade treaty talks, a move mirrored by Indian officials. These negotiations have been ongoing, with interruptions, since 2010. The recent diplomatic tensions have further complicated the prospects of a trade deal between the two countries, making the future of Canada-India trade relations uncertain.

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