We stand for united India, says Canada oppn leader Scheer
TORONTO: Canada’s opposition Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer has said he stands for a “united India” and won’t have common ground with those who advocate for “violence” or “division” in the context of the Khalistan movement.
Scheer made these comments in an interview as he completed a week-long visit to India, where he met, among others, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Asked about conversations he had with Indian leaders during the visit, particularly given the concern that Canada is becoming a staging ground for resurgence of the Khalistan movement, Scheer said he had reassured them that “in our party, we don’t support those who are advocating for some type of division like that”.
“We stand for a united India,” he said, adding his party could provide the political leadership towards “ensuring that we build common ground with those who are focused on making Canada a better place...and not those who are trying to in any way advocate for any type of violence”.
However, he cautioned against painting an “entire community with a broad brush” since only a “small number” were advocating separatism. “We recognise and appreciate the contributions of those of the Sikh faith who have contributed so much to our society,” he said.
Scheer received an unusually warm reception in India. Despite being an opposition leader and not a head of government or state, he met Modi, finance minister Arun Jaitley, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, home minister Rajnath Singh and minister of state Hardeep Puri, among others. He also met Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh as he travelled to Chandigarh and Amritsar. The welcome was in marked contrast to the frigid state of relations between India and the Justin Trudeau government in Ottawa. Scheer said he was “honoured” to meet Modi. “The conversation was a lengthy one, he was very generous with his time,” he said. MEXICO BEACH (UNITED STATES): The death toll from Hurricane Michael has risen to at least 17 with fears it would continue to climb Saturday as search-and-rescue teams scour the debris of the Florida town that bore the brunt of the monster storm.
“Mexico Beach is devastated,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said of the town where Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday. “It’s like a bomb went off,” Scott said as he toured the town of 1,000 people on the Gulf of Mexico.
Rescue teams were using sniffer dogs in Mexico Beach on Friday to search for victims who may be buried under the rubble in the debris-strewn community.
Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned that he expected the toll to rise.
“I hope we don’t see it climb dramatically but I have reasons to believe we still haven’t got into some of the hardest hit areas,” he said.
Dozens of structures in Mexico Beach — homes, shops and restaurants — were lifted off their foundations by storm surge and 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds and moved hundreds of feet inland or smashed to bits.
“Very few people live to tell what it’s like to experience storm surge,” Long said. “Storm surge causes the most amount of loss of life.”
State officials said Mexico Beach was under mandatory evacuation orders but some residents decided to stay and try to ride out the storm. “You hope that somehow at the last minute a bunch of people got up and left or went somewhere else,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio told CNN.
Debris and rubble are seen on a street after Hurricane Michael hit Mexico Beach, Florida.