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Trudeau goes Khalistan, Pakistan way!

Latest reshuffle in his council of ministers may not have addressed concerns on Canadian soil becoming fulcrum of anti-India elements

Rohan Giri

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recently reshuffled his council of ministers ahead of the upcoming general elections. This reshuffle involved making change of portfolios and work responsibilities of ministers along with four Indo-Canadians.


As Canada reconfigured its leadership, discerning and assessing its implications for the country’s partners like India becomes pertinent. Evolving political dynamics in Canada and resulting strategic adjustments warrant careful consideration in the global arena.

In specific, four Indo-Canadian ministers’ responsibilities were changed or promoted: Anita Anand, Kamal Khera, Harjit Sajjan, and Arif Virani. Notably, Anita Anand was promoted as President of Treasury Board, transitioning from her previous role as the Minister of National Defense.

Similarly, Kamal Khera moved from a senior portfolio to become Minister for Diversity, Inclusion, and Persons with Disabilities.

Harjit Sajjan, having served as International Development Minister, now holds the position of Minister for Emergency Preparedness.

Arif Virani, another Indian-Canadian and the representative of Parkdale-High Park in Toronto made his cabinet debut as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

Understanding their influence and engagement within the sizeable Indo-Canadian community and Indian affairs becomes crucial owing to the significant role overseas Indians play in influencing New Delhi’s relations with Ottawa.

Professor-turned-politician Anita Anand is particularly vocal about her Indian heritage taking immense pride in her grandfather, freedom fighter VA Sundaram, who worked alongside Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom struggle.

Anand\’s involvement extended to assisting the panel in investigating tragic 1985 Air India Kanishka bombing. On 35th anniversary of the bombing, she tweeted, “The victims of the bombing of Air India 182 and their families are in my thoughts today and always. I am privileged to know some of you and honour the memories of your loved ones with you.” Anita Anand also held a position on advisory board of the Canada India Foundation, an organisation established in 2007 to bolster bilateral ties.

During the cabinet transition, Kamalpreet Khera, representative for Brampton West in the House of Commons has taken on significant role of Minister for Diversity, Inclusion, and Persons with Disabilities. Khera\’s Indo-Canadian background goes back to her ancestors from Ropar in Punjab.

She is known to have close ties with Navdeep Bains, a former Canadian politician who served as Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry during 2015 – 21. There have been reports pointing to strong links Navdeep Bains has with Khalistani movement. Bains has allegedly been groomed by World Sikh Organization (WSO), a pro-Khalistan hard line organisation accused of radicalizing Sikh community and fostering divisions apart from piloting anti-India propaganda.

Relationship between Navdeep Bains and Kamalpreet Khera is said to be more than just acquaintanceship. Bains is regarded as mentor and guide to Khera.

Indian authorities have expressed their concern to the Canadian government multiple times regarding separatist activities on the latter’s soil. Prime Minister Trudeau\’s cabinet reshuffle also sparked reports on Harjit Sajjan, his association with Khalistani elements and his tacit support for their radical activities.

Hitherto Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh had publicly ostracised Sajjan as a “Khalistani supporter”. Singh had been a proponent of imposing sanctions on Canada for its \’open and covert\’ support to Khalistani terrorists.

Captain Singh had called for global pressure on Canada to prevent the use of its soil for perpetrating terror against India, particularly the Sikh community targeted by Khalistani terrorists. Reports pointed to Harjit Sajjan\’s parents, Kundan Singh Sajjan and Vidya Kaur Sajjan’s long term membership of WSO.

Another notable Indo-Canadian that figured in the latest cabinet reshuffle is Arif Virani, who spent 15 years as human rights and constitutional lawyer before entering politics. Virani is vocal about purported Islamophobia and remained deeply committed to the trumped up issue.

Since his initial election, he consistently advocated against Islamophobia, both on the ground and within the Parliament. Notably, he sought inputs from Muslim groups on how to tackle online hate faced by Muslims before Liberals introduced Bill C-36 in June 2021. Primary objective of this bill was to combat online hate with focus on addressing Islamophobia that Virani thinks is prevalent.

Arif Virani was involved in a study on M-103, a non-binding motion in the 42nd Canadian Parliament urging the government to condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination. Additionally, he is associated with the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada, an organisation working in various countries. The foundation faced accusations of involvement in money laundering

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau\’s decision to include Khalistani and Pakistani jihadist elements in his council of ministers may not go well with New Delhi. Comprehensive research conducted by veteran journalist Terry Milewski titled, “Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan” unequivocally demonstrates that the Khalistan movement poses not only a threat to India but also significant concern for Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau\’s undeniable link with anti-India elements underscore the risk it poses to bilateral relations and global security environment.

(Author is operations manager at Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies, non-partisan think tank based in New Delhi)

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