Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office says it was “inappropriate” for Indian diplomats to interfere in a cultural festival outside of Toronto.
The allegations stem from a controversy last summer in which Indian consular officials reportedly tried to dissuade the annual Carabram festival in Brampton, Ont. – a city west of Toronto with a large Indian population – from having separate Punjab and India pavilions. Punjab is the only state in India with a Sikh majority.
Freeland’s spokesman, Adam Austen, wrote in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail, “Interference in domestic affairs by foreign representatives in Canada is inappropriate.”
“The federal government has no role in planning Carabram, but supports the right of its organizers to do so however they see fit.”
Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey first raised concerns about “unwarranted and unwelcome interference” by the Consulate General of India in a letter to Ms. Freeland on Aug. 18, 2017.
The allegations of improper interference come at a time of heightened tensions between Canada and the Indian government.