Canada’s Defense Minister Bill Blair underscored the importance of the nation’s relationship with India, even in the midst of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call for cooperation from the Indian government following his explosive claims of potential involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia.
While Blair did not explicitly state whether the Canadian government might reconsider its Indo-Pacific strategy in light of escalating diplomatic tensions between the two countries, he implied that Canada would persist in forging partnerships as investigations into the allegations proceeded.
India swiftly rejected Trudeau’s allegations as “absurd” and “motivated,” resulting in the expulsion of a senior Canadian diplomat in response to Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official in connection with the case. India had previously designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.
In an interview with Global News, the Canadian defense minister remarked, “We recognize that this can be, and has proven to be, a challenging issue in terms of our relationship with India.”
“However, we also have a duty to uphold the law, safeguard our citizens, and ensure a comprehensive investigation is carried out to uncover the truth,” Blair added.
Blair further pointed out that if the allegations were substantiated, Canada would have significant concerns regarding the violation of its sovereignty in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil.
Canada had been actively seeking deeper trade, defense, and immigration connections with India before Trudeau referred to the “credible intelligence” related to the case.
Liberal party MP Chandra Arya voiced criticism of his own government, asserting that Hindu Canadians were living in fear due to threats issued by extremist elements. Arya held the party-led government accountable for its perceived inaction against Khalistan extremists.
Arya, a member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party, consistently raised concerns about threats to Hindu Canadians and encouraged the community to remain composed and vigilant.
Arya’s comments were prompted by threats issued by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and other extremist elements, cautioning the Hindu community in Canada to return to India amid ongoing tensions between the two nations.
In an interview with CBC News, Chandra Arya expressed his apprehension about the aftermath of Prime Minister Trudeau’s statement, stating, “I am more concerned about the consequences of what occurred after the Prime Minister’s (Trudeau) statement. The safety concerns of Hindu Canadians here; Hindu Canadians are anxious.”
He also referenced a widely circulated column that underscored the risk of ethnic and sectarian violence in Canada, underscoring his concern that Hindu Canadians might become targets of such violence.