Canada committed to 'closer ties' with India, says Trudeau, despite Nijjar allegations

The PM says it’s ‘extremely important’ Canada and its allies continue to engage with India given its growing importance on the world stage

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is still committed to building closer ties with India, despite “credible allegations” that the Indian government was involved in the killing of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia just last June.

Speaking at a press conference in Montreal, Trudeau said that he thinks it is “extremely important” that Canada and its allies continue to engage “constructively and seriously” with India given its growing importance on the world stage.

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“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,” he told reporters.

“At the same time, obviously, as a rule of law country, we need to emphasize that India needs to work with Canada to ensure that we get the full facts of this matter.”

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Trudeau said he got assurances from the United States that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken would be raising the allegations made publicly about India’s role in Nijjar’s murder during a meeting with his Indian counterpart in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Blinken presented the Minister of Indian External Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, as a “friend and colleague” and hinted at “very good discussions over the last weeks” that he was looking forward to continuing.

“The Americans have been with us in speaking to the Indian government about how important it is that they be involved in following up on the credible allegations that agents of the Indian government killed a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil,” said Trudeau.

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“This is something that all democratic countries, all countries that respect the rule of law need to take seriously. We are moving forward in a thoughtful, responsible way anchored in the rule of law with all of our partners including in our approach to the Government of India,” he added.

Trudeau first spoke publicly about the allegations in the House of Commons on Sept. 18. He said that Canadian security agencies had been actively pursuing “credible allegations of a potential link” between agents of the Government of India and the killing of Nijjar.

He also said that he had brought those concerns directly to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 summit, and that India’s top intelligence and security officials were informed of Canada’s “deep concerns.”

Trudeau then urged the Indian government to co-operate with Canada “to get to the bottom of this matter.”

His declaration worsened already difficult relations between the countries. A significant amount of disinformation ensued from India following the allegations, including false claims from a former Indian diplomat that Trudeau’s plane was full of cocaine during the G20 summit.

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Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre demanded that Trudeau release more information about the allegations. But NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who has his security clearances and received an intelligence briefing on the matter, came to the same conclusion as Trudeau.

“I can confirm what the prime minister has shared publicly: that there is clear intelligence that Canada has that lays out the following case that a Canadian citizen was killed on Canadian soil and a foreign government was involved,” Singh said this week.

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