Canadian PM Justin Trudeau reiterates stance on farmers’ protest amid diplomatic row with India

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday reiterated his stance on the ongoing farmers’ protest against agriculture laws in India amid the worsening ties between both the nations. On Friday, he yet again said, “Canada will always stand up for the right of peaceful protest and human rights”.

In response to a question, he said, “Canada will always stand up for the right of peaceful protest anywhere around the world. We are pleased to see moves towards de-escalation and dialogue.”

Earlier, India issued a demarche to the Canadian High Commissioner over PM Trudeau’s comments on the protests. Trudeau had said, “I would be remiss if I didn’t start also by recognising the news coming out of India about the protest by farmers. The situation is concerning, and we’re all very worried about family and friends.”

The Canadian High Commissioner was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and informed that comments made by the Canadian Prime Minister, some Cabinet Ministers and Members of Canadian Parliament on issues relating to Indian farmers constitute an “unacceptable interference in India’s internal affairs.’’

“The comments by the Canadian leaders on Indian farmers constitute an “unacceptable interference” in our internal affairs,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

Dismissing the remarks made by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau on farmers’ protest, the MEA called it “ill-informed” and “unwarranted”. “Such actions, if continued, would have a seriously damaging impact on ties between India and Canada,’’ the MEA said.

“These comments have encouraged gatherings of extremist activities in front of our High Commission and Consulates in Canada that raise issues of safety and security. We expect the Canadian Government to ensure the fullest security of Indian diplomatic personnel and its political leaders to refrain from pronouncements that legitimize extremist activism,” the MEA said.

Trudeau had made the remarks while participating in a virtual video interaction organised by Canadian MP Bardish Chagger to mark the 551st birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion.

In his opening remarks during the interaction, he had said, “I know that’s a reality for many of you. Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protest. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we’ve reached out through multiple means directly to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns.”

Canadian ministers Navdeep Bains and Harjit Sajjan and members of the Sikh community also attended the event.

Canada has a large number of members of the Indian diaspora, many from the northern Indian state of Punjab. A fringe element is known to have supported the cause of Khalistan, a separate homeland for Sikh, and perpetrated a number of terror attacks.

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This is not the first time, Canadian PM has landed himself into trouble with Delhi. In 2017, he was present at the Khalsa Day parade that draws extremist elements. In 2018, during his week-long India visit, convicted Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal’s presence at a reception drew criticism.

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