Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the “extremely challenging time” Canada is facing in its diplomatic relationship with India but affirmed Canada’s commitment to maintaining “constructive relations” with New Delhi. Trudeau’s comments came amid an ongoing diplomatic row between the two nations regarding the killing of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Importance of Diplomats in India: During a press conference in Ottawa, Trudeau emphasized the significance of having Canadian diplomats stationed in India. This statement followed a report by the Financial Times, based in London, which suggested that India had requested the withdrawal of up to 41 of the 62 remaining Canadian diplomats from the country.
Trudeau’s Stance on Escalation: While Trudeau did not confirm the details of the FT report, he stated that Canada is not seeking to escalate the situation. Instead, his government is committed to engaging constructively with India despite the ongoing difficulties. He expressed this sentiment by saying, “We’re not looking to escalate… we’re going to be doing the work that matters in continuing to have constructive relations with India through this extremely difficult time.”
Background of Diplomatic Tensions: Tensions between India and Canada escalated in the past month following Trudeau’s allegations of potential involvement by Indian agents in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia. India strongly rejected these allegations, deeming them “absurd” and “motivated.” Nijjar had been designated as a terrorist by India in 2020.
India’s Requests and Actions: In response to the situation, India urged Canada to reduce the size of its diplomatic staff in India, advocating for parity in both strength and rank equivalence in diplomatic presence. India also called on Canada to take stronger action against terrorists and anti-India elements operating from Canadian soil and temporarily suspended visa services for Canadians.