If Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s accusation that India was involved in the assassination of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside a Sikh temple in Surry, B.C. on June 18 is accurate, then it is an outrageous violation of Canadian sovereignty.
While India regarded Nijjar, a supporter of a Sikh homeland in an independent Khalistani state, as a terrorist, no country — let alone one that describes itself as a fellow democracy — is justified in carrying out a targeted assassination of a Canadian citizen on our soil.
As Trudeau told the House of Commons in a shocking announcement Monday, on the first day of Parliament’s return from its summer break: “Canada is a rule of law country. The protection of our citizens and defence of our sovereignty are fundamental.”
He said Canadian security authorities are “actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India” and Nijjar’s fatal shooting.
The Trudeau government believes the allegations are true — it expelled a top Indian diplomat on Monday — and Trudeau said he raised Canada’s concerns, “personally and directly … in no uncertain terms” with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at last week’s G20 meeting in India.
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That explains the frigid relations between the two leaders at the G20, with India having long accused Canada of harbouring terrorists and failing to protect Indian diplomats in Canada from potential threats.
We have been highly critical of the Trudeau government for damaging diplomatic and trade relations with India through a series of fiascoes, including inviting the attempted murderer of an Indian cabinet minister on Vancouver Island to an official Canadian reception in India in 2018.
We haven’t changed our views, but if what Trudeau has alleged about India’s involvement in Nijjar’s murder is true, then we back his demands for Indian authorities to cooperate in getting to the bottom of what happened.
That said, extraordinary allegations require extraordinary evidence.
We expect the Trudeau government — which has been woefully inadequate in countering foreign interference in Canadian democracy — to disclose the evidence that led it to conclude the Indian government was directly involved in Nijjar’s murder, save only for information that would jeopardize intelligence operations or Canadian security.
This given that Canada’s already precarious relationship with India, is likely beyond repair.
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