Get Involved

Justin Trudeau on a Sticky Wicket

Khalistani terror links, snapping ties with Bharat, ignoring bread and butter issues, dissent within ruling party may not help Canadian PM secure a fresh mandate

Dr Amrit Pal Kaur

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made explosive comments on September 19 suspecting Indian role in killing of terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June 2023. Outrageous as these comments were, they were damaging in equanimity. Trudeau’s statements within and outside the Canadian Parliament led to an unwanted and unwarranted diplomatic war with India that could and should have been avoided.


Given that Trudeau is leading a minority government with support from parties like New Democratic Party, it seems to be his political exigency to comment on any and everything Indian. The myopic view of the present Canadian dispensation with regard to Indo-Canadian relations only puts a mammoth question mark on Trudeau’s acumen as a statesman. Instead of behaving like head of a leading country like Canada, Trudeau managed to cut a sorry figure for himself in global international political matrix.

Big question, however is, why Trudeau jumped the gun and declare something which may not be true at all. Did the purported ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence sharing mechanism that includes US, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand fail to deliver?  

The reasons are palpable. The drama in wake of his visit to Delhi for G-20 summit, much on the line of Shakespearean script, was peppered with generous amount of prejudice against India acted as immediate trigger for his outpouring in Parliament.  It is more than clear that Trudeau is playing to domestic gallery with the allegations against India. As much as he wishes to make it an issue of international nature, it is essentially a domestic concern for Canada.

As the New Democratic Party led by Jagmeet Singh, a sikh descent, is a crucial partner in Trudeau Government and Sikhs hold crucial votes in the Canadian elections. Therefore, his inkling towards everything Sikh is quite evident. There is clear evidence of Canadian Government’s support to extremist groups which have terror links as well as entertain separatist agenda against India. From facilitating Khalistani referendum to permission for vile speeches against India, the separatists have been given support short of recognition by the Canadian Government.

The killing of Nijjar is portrayed as an assassination project of Government of India in the light of his terror history. Nijjar, an Indian citizen, had reached Canada seeking political asylum in 1997 after two failed attempts and with forged documents. In Canada, he eventually became the chief of Khalistan Tiger Force. He became the leader of a Gurudwara committee in Surrey, British Columbia in 2020.

Nijjar was a deemed terrorist as notified by Government of India for his involvement in terror related activities in the country. This perhaps worked to Trudeau’s advantage and against India.  However, there are other aspects that Trudeau seems to be happily oblivious to or conveniently ignored.

For one, the Sikh diasporic politics in Canada is as much about the heft and influence among hardworking community and the leadership of a Gurudwara is one such accolade which contributes to a Sikh death might have to do with leadership of Gurudwara as well as the local politics of his region.

Second, there are credible reports that Nijjar was involved in the terrorist activities in India including a bomb blast in Punjab. He is known to have visited Pakistan to meet his links there. Third, as much as Trudeau believes in assassination theories, India is a peace loving and rule abiding democratic country with a long-standing impeccable record that’s under constant scrutiny.

Trudeau and his government do not seem to realise the dangerous nature of separatist or extremists driven politics. Clearly, they have not witnessed the violence and fear of terrorism on the scale Indians and especially people of Punjab have seen. Separatists came to India via the Canadian route as there are hardly any takers in India for it. Way too much blood has been shed and precious lives have been lost to the grotesque creature of terrorism that its knock on the doors of Punjab makes Punjabis fearful.

It took decades to restore semblance of normalcy in Punjab and the separatist agenda seeks to undo it. Indian government’s fury is understandable given the context and recent terror history. No one in India wants to turn the clock back to vile 80’s. Peace, love and stability are preached in Sikhism and Sikhs of today seek to maintain it in their homeland. Trudeau’s petty politics seeks to threaten it without realizing the fragile nature of this calm.

Fanning separatist flames may have grave repercussions in Canada and India well. Indians, of all faiths, who do not vouch the handful separatist fringe elements are being threatened under the very eye of the administration. Security of Indian Diplomatic corps is also compromised when the separatists protested outside Indian Consulate, distributed flyers with names of Indian diplomats and put up posters.

These grave incidences not only present a weak figure of Trudeau Government abroad but also create a fearful environment within Canada. These developments propelled Indian government to temporarily stay on issuing visas to Canadian nationals. Whereas India is accused of violating Canadian sovereignty, Canada has not performed its duty to protect the Indians, their properties, businesses, jobs and Indian diplomats.

Trudeau has conveniently resorted to a cover up of these facts. In fact, if not controlled, the separatists may even become a credible threat to Canadian security as well when this creature that Trudeau is nurturing turns to face him. He does not seem to realize that terrorism has no religion and does not harbour faith in humanity and no amount of sugarcoating will change its essential nature. If the hope is to fan a fire across continents will keep their hearth safe, then history has shown time and again that chickens eventually come home to roost.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has shown anything but statesmanship for petty gains in domestic politics costing the nation a big embarrassment in the international arena. That it can very well cost Canada ties with India is a foregone conclusion.

He should have been better advised than to make a statement on record in Canadian legislature based on half cooked mis-adventurist theories. In the process, keeping under wraps the inalienable nexus between drug mafias, terror financiers, terrorists themselves and their handlers to win the 2024 Canadian mandate may not work for Trudeau.

Volatility in real estate prices in Canada owing point to serious adverse impact on Indians flocking to the country known for being friendly with quality education opportunities. Migration of Indians in droves for work and business may also take a hit apart from investments in businesses, trade in goods and services.

Rage within the ruling establishment against Trudeau is only an extension of thin ice on which the Canadian Prime Minister is seeking to balance ahead of a renewed mandate in 2024.

(Author is Assistant Professor in Dayal Singh College, Delhi University and contributing fellow at non-partisan think tank, Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *