Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

Canada is firm on saving its citizens, says Trudeau

Canadian PM also accused previous Conservati­ve govt in his country of being ‘cosy’ with the current Indian government

- Anirudh Bhattachar­yya letters@hindustant­imes.com

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who testified at a public inquiry looking into foreign interferen­ce in the country’s electoral process, said that his government was committed to defending the rights of its citizens to “speak out” even if it “irritates their home countries overseas”.

Speaking on allegation­s of Indian interferen­ce in Canada’s internal affairs, Trudeau referred to his claims in the House of Commons about there being “credible allegation­s” of a potential link between Indian agents and the killing of proKhalist­an figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, in June last year.

“How we stood up for Canadians, including the very serious case that I brought forward of the killing of Nijjar, demonstrat­es our government’s commitment to defending the rights and freedoms of Canadians,” he said. Those rights, Trudeau added, included “all the rights of a Canadian to be free from extortion, coercion, interferen­ce from a country that they left behind.”

Asked whether appropriat­e steps were not taken to expose foreign interferen­ce, Trudeau said, “I think that’s certainly a question one needs to ask of the previous conservati­ve government that was known for its very cosy relationsh­ip with the current Indian government. Whereas our government has always stood up to defend minorities in Canada and the rights of minorities to speak out, even if it irritates their home countries overseas.”

There was no immediate reaction from India on the matter.

The murder of Nijjar, who was designated as terrorist by India in 2020, caused a rupture in diplomatic ties between India and Canada after Trudeau on September 18 last year claimed there were “credible allegation­s” of a potential link of Indian agents in the murder. India dismissed the allegation­s as “absurd” and “motivated”, with external affairs minister S Jaishankar saying the North American country was yet to produce any evidence to support its claim.

Trudeau appeared for nearly three-and-half hours before the national public inquiry into Foreign Interferen­ce in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutio­ns, which is being headed by Quebec judge Marie-Josee Hogue. Several members of his cabinet, political party representa­tives, intelligen­ce officials and senior bureaucrat­s have already recorded their testimony before the inquiry panel over the past few days.

While the focus on the inquiry has largely been on the foreign interferen­ce activities conducted by China, particular­ly in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections — both won by Trudeau’s Liberal Party — it has also seen documents released by intelligen­ce agencies that point to such activity by other countries, including India, Russia, Iran and Pakistan.

 ?? AP ?? Trudeau referred to his claims in the House of Commons about there being ‘credible allegation­s’ of a link between Indian agents and the killing of pro-Khalistan figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
AP Trudeau referred to his claims in the House of Commons about there being ‘credible allegation­s’ of a link between Indian agents and the killing of pro-Khalistan figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

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