TORONTO: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed Canada's commitment to forging stronger ties with India, emphasizing its growing economic significance and geopolitical influence. However, he urged New Delhi to collaborate with Ottawa to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances surrounding the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Tensions escalated between India and Canada following Trudeau's controversial allegations of potential Indian involvement in the murder of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil on June 18 in British Columbia. India had previously designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.
"India is a growing economic power and important geopolitical player. And as we presented with our Indo-Pacific strategy, just last year, we're very serious about building closer ties with India," Trudeau stated, emphasizing that India should cooperate with Canada to uncover the complete truth of the matter.
India vehemently rejected these allegations as "absurd" and "motivated," leading to the expulsion of a senior Canadian diplomat, mirroring Ottawa's earlier expulsion of an Indian official in response to the case.
Trudeau underscored Canada's commitment to fostering closer relations despite the "credible allegations" against India. During a press conference in Montreal, he emphasized the need for constructive engagement between Canada, its allies, and India due to India's burgeoning global importance.
Trudeau revealed that he received assurances from the United States that Secretary of State Antony Blinken would address the publicly made allegations regarding India's role in Nijjar's murder during a meeting with his Indian counterpart in Washington.
However, the official statement from the US State Department on the Blinken-Jaishankar meeting did not explicitly mention discussions related to the India-Canada diplomatic standoff.
Trudeau stressed that the US had supported Canada in engaging with the Indian government to emphasize the importance of a thorough investigation into the credible allegations of Indian government agents being involved in a Canadian citizen's killing on Canadian soil.
He emphasized that this was a matter that all democratic nations, dedicated to upholding the rule of law, should treat with utmost seriousness.
"We are moving forward in a thoughtful, responsible way, anchored in the rule of law, in our interactions with all partners, including the Government of India," he added.
Trudeau initially addressed these allegations in the House of Commons on September 18. Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre called for more information to be released regarding the allegations. However, the New Democratic Party leader, Jagmeet Singh, who holds security clearances and received an intelligence briefing on the matter, concurred with Trudeau's stance.