Justin Trudeau says Canada supports a united India
Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose government's support to Khalistan groups has made New Delhi apprehensive, has reaffirmed his government's position on a united India. "Canada has been unequivocal on its policy of a one united India," Trudeau said in Mumbai on Monday night.
"Canada's strength is that we have recognised that diversity is strength. Wide range of opinions and views are an important part of the success of Canada. We of course reject violence and hate speech. But at the same time let me assure that my position, Canada's position, has not changed. We support one, united India," Trudeau said at an event in Mumbai.
Without referring to Khalistan, Trudeau further said, "We have been diligent in ensuring we are taking our responsibility seriously on cracking down on extremism and standing up for the kind of peaceful dialogue that is essential in Canada. We will continue to advocate for one united India and that is core to what Canada is. Canada has been unequivocal on its policy of a one united India. We have been very strong on that and we will continue to be."
Trudeau's statement on the third day of his seven-day India visit came in the backdrop of concerns in India over his government's support to pro-Khalistan elements among the Sikh diaspora in Canada.
Many had asked if the Narendra Modi government's decision to downplay Trudeau's first state visit to India - there has been no welcome tweet from Modi or Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj - is in retaliation to Canada's backing of Khalistan groups.
In fact, Khalistan had cast such a long shadow on Trudeau's India visit that there was no certainty if Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh would receive the Canadian leader when he visits Amritsar on Wednesday.
There was uncertainty over Amarinder's meeting with Trudeau as the Punjab Chief Minister had last year courted controversy when he had refused to meet Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, the first Sikh Defence Minister of a western country, during a visit to Punjab in April last year.
Amarinder Singh had gone public to label Sajjan and other ministers of Indian origin in the Trudeau government as "Khalistani sympathizers".
But Amarinder ended the suspense on Monday by saying he will meet the Canadian Prime Minister in the holy city. "Look forward to meeting Canadian Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau in Amritsar on Wednesday. I'm hopeful that this meeting will help strengthen the close Indo-Canadian business ties as well as the deep-rooted people-to-people relations between our two countries," he posted.
Trudeau is arriving in Amritsar on Wednesday and will offer prayers at the Golden Temple complex, where the holiest of Sikh shrines 'Harmandir Sahib' is located. Amarinder Singh tweeted on Monday that he was looking forward to the "one-on-one" meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister.
The visit is of political and social significance in Canada as that country has a substantial Indian Diaspora, majority of them being from Punjab.
Video Credit: Twitter (The Canadian Press via The CityNews Toronto)