The recent disclosure made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding “credible allegations” implicating agents of the Indian government in the killing of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 has reverberated globally, with Canada at the center of the storm.
This announcement dominated headlines throughout Canada last week, intensifying the strain on the already troubled relationship between the two countries. While attending the G20 summit in India a few days prior, Trudeau reportedly raised the issue directly with PM Modi during their discussions, even during a bilateral “side meeting.”
This situation appears to be a result of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to project a strong and assertive image for himself. In the process, Canada has been depicted in India as the “new Pakistan” or even a “Pakistan Plus,” accused of a range of activities from aiding terrorism and harboring criminals to supporting organized crime.
However, within Canada, it appears that there is unity on this issue, with strong condemnation of the killing. Members of the House of Commons conveyed a clear message that such an act is “entirely unacceptable.”
Following Trudeau’s announcement, Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the opposition in the House, emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of law and called on parliament to unite in response to these allegations. Notably, the previous Conservative government in Canada, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, had fostered strong bilateral relations with India.
Critics, both within Canada and internationally, have questioned Trudeau’s handling of the situation. Some argue that his statement accusing India of involvement in the killing was carefully worded to convey just enough information without revealing everything.
The evolving nature of this crisis is being closely monitored, especially regarding the reactions of Canada’s close allies, including the United States. The vagueness of the allegations has led to a relatively softer stance from these allies compared to their response to Chinese attempts to influence Canadian elections.
In an effort to address concerns, Trudeau stressed that sharing these allegations in the House of Commons was not done lightly. Cabinet ministers have also emphasized that the situation is still developing.
The situation concerning possible Chinese interference in Canadian politics had drawn criticism for being handled slowly, and some believe the government aimed to avoid a similar controversy with India.
However, some sources had been aware of these explosive allegations for several weeks, and media outlets had been circling around them during the summer. This eventually prompted the government to take action.
The repercussions of this ongoing crisis are expected to be long-lasting, with potential impacts on domestic peace, ethnic tensions, and economic relations. Trade talks with India have already been suspended, and the flow of Indian students to Canada for education and immigration policies may be affected. The situation remains delicate and continues to evolve.