Trudeau addresses concerns about ‘complicated times’ with India during visit to Brampton
Published October 2, 2023 at 11:30 am
Brampton residents worried about Canada’s growing political rift with India got some words of support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, saying the safety of citizens
The prime minister’s comments came during a surprise visit to the Gore Meadows Community Centre and Library in Brampton on Friday.
Trudeau met with Brampton Centre MP Shafqat Ali and many residents during the previously unannounced pit stop, speaking with families, students and seniors “about the challenges they’re facing – and the work we’re doing to address the high cost of groceries and housing.”
But the prime minister was also asked about Canada’s growing tensions with India following the high-profile killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in B.C., a prominent member of the Khalistan Sikh sovereignty movement who helped promote a referendum in Brampton last September.
Trudeau said last month there are “credible allegations” that agents of the Indian state were involved in the killing of Nijjar, with sources saying those claims are based on surveillance of Indian diplomats in Canada, including intelligence provided by a major ally. The allegations were followed by each country expelling diplomats in an escalating tit-for-tat, as well as the suspension of Indian visa services at an application centre in Brampton.
“It’s very, very complicated times right now,” Trudeau told a group at the community centre’s outdoor picnic area who were concerned with Canada’s tensions with India. “It’s a time where we have to pull together, we have to be there for each other.”
Trudeau also acknowledged the challenge of navigating such serious allegations with a country that is widely seen around the world as a vital economic and geopolitical ally with the West. But the prime minister said that every Canadian, “regardless of where they come from,” has a need “to be safe in this country.”
“That’s something that even as we look to work and grow our trade ties around the world, including with India, we have to be unequivocal about the rules being the rules,” Trudeau said.
News of the allegations led Brampton City Council to call on police agencies and the federal government to ensure all places of worship in Brampton are kept safe. Brampton Coun. Gurpartap Singh Toor said the allegations were not a surprise to the Sikh community, but rather brought “validation to the decades of Canadian voices that have always spoken about the presence of foreign interference and intelligence reporting by the government of India.”
India halted visa services for Canadian citizens, including at its Brampton visa office. The suspension does not apply to residents who already have an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card, or those whose single-entry visas have already been processed.
The Indian government has also released a list of what it calls wanted terrorists and “gangsters,” including Canadian residents and the accused killer of Brampton rapper Sidhu Moose Wala.
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