In the midst of a heated diplomatic dispute over the murder of a Khalistani extremist leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said Canada is not seeking to “provoke or cause problems” with India. He also urged New Delhi to take the situation “extremely seriously” and cooperate with Ottawa to “uncover the truth.”
“We call upon the government of India to take seriously this matter and to work with us to shed full transparency and ensure accountability and justice in this matter,” Trudeau said while responding to questions on the diplomatic row between India and Canada.
“We are a country of the rule of law. We are going to continue to do the work necessary to keep Canadians safe and to uphold our values and the international rules-based order. That’s our focus right now,” added Trudeau, who is here to attend the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
When asked if his government would retaliate against India for stopping to issue Canadians visas, Trudeau responded that his administration had no desire to incite unrest or cause issues.
“There is no question that India is a country of growing importance and a country that we need to continue to work with, not just in the region but around the world. We’re not looking to provoke or cause problems. But we are unequivocal around the importance of the rule of law and unequivocal about the importance of protecting Canadians.
“That’s why we call upon the government of India, to work with us to establish processes to discover and to uncover the truth of the matter and to allow justice and accountability to be served,” he said.
Following Trudeau’s explosive claims that Indian agents were “potentially” involved in the murder of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Indian soil on June 18 in British Columbia, tensions between India and Canada erupted early this week. In 2020, India deemed Nijjar to be a terrorist.
India vehemently denied the accusations as “absurd” and “motivated,” and in retaliation for Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official over the matter, it also expelled a senior Canadian diplomat.
“There are credible reasons to believe that agents of the government of India were involved in the killing of a Canadian on Canadian soil,” he said, repeating his allegation.
“We have a rigorous and independent justice system and robust processes that will follow their course. We call upon the government of India to engage with us to move forward on getting to the truth of this matter,” he said.
In response to a different query, Trudeau stated that on September 10 outside of the G20 summit in New Delhi, he had “a direct and frank conversation” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he expressed his “concerns in no uncertain terms.” This week, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated that allegations made to Prime Minister Modi by the Canadian Prime Minister were wholly denied.
Responding to another question, Trudeau said it’s extremely important that as a country with a strong and independent justice system, we allow those justice processes to unfold themselves with the utmost integrity.
“The decision to share these allegations on the floor of the House of Commons Monday morning was not done lightly. It was done with utmost seriousness..,” Trudeau said.