Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has become infamous for his seeming tolerance towards pro-Khalistani activities, which have been taking place with increasing frequency in his country.
In several instances, Trudeau was non-committal about acting against the Khalistani elements, often brushing it off as “freedom of expression”.
Here are five times when Justin Trudeau legitimised anti-India activities:
1. On Tuesday, Justin Trudeau referred to Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was killed in June, as a “Canadian citizen”. He also alleged a “potential link” between the Indian government and Nijjar’s death.
“Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” said Trudeau while speaking at the House of Commons in Ottawa.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a terrorist on the Indian government’s wanted list. He was killed in a targeted shooting in June this year outside a gurdwara in Surrey.
2. The Canadian Prime Minister has also not made any remarks on an anti-India referendum which was organised at the Guru Nanak Singh Gurudwara in Surrey by the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). Khalistani separatist and SFJ founder Gurpatwant Singh Pannun made a public appearance at the referendum and delivered an inciteful speech hinting at ‘balkanising’ India.
It took place on September 10, the same day that Trudeau talked about the Khalistani issue with PM Modi. After the meeting, Trudeau, while speaking about the Khalistani protests in his country, said, “Canada would always defend freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and freedom of peaceful protest.”
The referendum was earlier scheduled to be held at a Canadian government school but the permission was revoked after an uproar.
3. In July, Justin Trudeau reverted to his frequently used ‘freedom of expression’ phrase once more when asked about a parade in Brampton which had a float glorifying the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. “We have an extremely diverse country and freedom of expression is something that we have, but we will always make sure that we are pushing back against violence and extremism in all its forms,” said the Canadian Prime Minister.
He also asserted, “Canada has always taken extremely seriously violence and threats of violence.” Trudeau’s remark came a month after the parade was taken out in June by Khalistani supporters, days before the 39th anniversary of Operation Blue Star on June 6.
4. Trudeau’s assertion of how Canada takes violence seriously was made days after it came to light that Khalistani threat posters in the country were featuring names of Indian diplomats. At the time, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the Indian government asked the Canadian government not to give space to Khalistani groups.
The pamphlets circulated by the Khalistani supporters named Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma, Consul General Vancouver Manish, Consul General Toronto Apoorva Srivastava, claiming that India was responsible for the killing of Hardeep Nijjar.
Justin Trudeau did not speak on the matter of his own volition but, when asked about it, he said Canada has always taken “serious action” against terrorism .
5. In 2018, during Justin Trudeau’s official visit to India, reports emerged that Jaspal Atwal, a convicted former Khalistani terrorist, was invited to a dinner organised for him at the Canadian High Commission in Delhi. Pictures also started circulating of Trudeau’s ex-wife Sophie (whom he was still together with at the time) with Jaspal Atwal from an event in Mumbai.
Justin Trudeau shifted the blame for the invitation to a member of the Canadian Parliament and said Atwal “should never have received an invitation”.