Frosty Canada-India ties put the spotlight on Trudeau’s conduct at G20 summit | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Frosty Canada-India ties put the spotlight on Trudeau’s conduct at G20 summit

Sep 20, 2023 09:33 PM IST

The recent events have put the spotlight on Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s testy demeanour during the recently concluded G20 summit in India.

The divide between Canada and India grew further on Wednesday after India asked Indian nationals living in Canada to exercise caution, ramping up the ongoing confrontation between the two countries over Canada's accusations that the Indian government may have been involved in the killing of Khalistan extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau at Rajghat in New Delhi during the G20 Summit earlier this month. (AP File Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau at Rajghat in New Delhi during the G20 Summit earlier this month. (AP File Photo)

The Indian travel advisory follows tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions by both countries.

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While the allegations were levelled on Monday, Canada and India have confirmed that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the issue of involvement of the Indian government in Nijjar's death personally with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his visit to India during the G20 Summit.

“Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister, and were completely rejected,” said a statement by India's foreign ministry.

The turn of events have put the spotlight on Trudeau’s testy demeanour during the recently concluded G20 summit in India.

Here is a recap of at Trudeau's conduct at the Summit that has generated fresh media attention:

PM Modi and Trudeau during G20

PM Modi tried to grasp Trudeau's hand for a handshake in a wreath-laying ceremony at Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation site during the G20 Summit but Trudeau pulled away, reported Toronto-based publisher City News Everywhere. Several leaders including Dutch PM Mark Rutte, UK PM Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron shook hands with Modi.

Trudeau was the only leader to cut short a longer handshake, according to the report. Asked about the exchange, Trudeau said people could read into it what they wish, it said.

Trudeau skips events including G20 dinner

Trudeau skipped the President of India’s reception dinner, which was held for G20 guests and leaders. Even the Prime Minister's office refused to provide a reason for Trudeau missing the dinner.

Trudeau also skipped attending the launch of the Global Biofuel Alliance during the G20 Summit. Launched by PM Modi, US President Joe Biden, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio, Argentina's Alberto Fernández, Italian PM Giorgia Meloni; the Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA) is an initiative which aims to accelerate the worldwide adoption of biofuels by promoting technological advancements, increasing the use of sustainable biofuels, and establishing robust standards and certification processes through the active involvement of a wide range of stakeholders.

Trudeau's aircraft issues surfaced yet no government talks sought

Trudeau's aircraft suffered a technical snag after the G20 summit which led to him, along with the Canadian delegation, to stay for two more days in India.

Yet, Trudeau chose to stay in his room at the Lalit Hotel in New Delhi after his Airbus plane developed a snag. He did not have any engagement with the Indian government on Monday.

The ministry of external affairs confirmed that they had received no request for any other official engagements and the office of the minister of state who was assigned to receive Trudeau, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, also confirmed that his duty was simply to receive the Canadian PM at the airport on his arrival. There was also no indication of any engagements at the local high commission either.

Modi-Trudeau talks during G20

During his meet with Trudeau after the summit, PM Modi conveyed to the former about India's concerns regarding the continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada as they are promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats and threatening the Indian community in that country.

The Ministry of External Affairs said Modi expressed great concerns to Trudeau regarding “continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada. They are promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises, and threatening the Indian community in Canada and their places of worship”.

PM Modi tweeted, “Met PM @JustinTrudeau on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. We discussed the full range of India-Canada ties across different sectors.”

Trudeau said, in a press conference in India, after the meeting that Canada would always defend freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of peaceful protest and it is extremely important to the country. He added, “At the same time, we are always there to prevent violence and to push back against hatred. I think on the issue of the community, it is important to remember that the actions of the few do not represent the entire community or Canada.”

When asked about the exchange during the bilateral meet with Modi, Trudeau said, “I’ll let you read into it what you like.”

Trudeau's India criticism & Canada's paused trade talks

Even ahead of the G20 Summit, Trudeau on several occasions criticised India for “anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada”, in reference to Khalistan.

Before arriving for the G20 Summit, Trudeau paused all talks on a proposed trade treaty with India "to take stock of where we are", a Canadian official told reporters. As reported by Reuters, an official said, “Trade negotiations are long, complex processes.”

India, however, paused all negotiations for a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with Canada after the latter laid allegations, which is not a “strategically” important country for nation’s commodities’ requirements as bilateral merchandise trade between the two countries was a mere $8 billion in FY23, with exports and imports almost evenly balanced, two officials told Hindustan Times.

In July this year, Trudeau's National Security Advisor Jody Thomas accused India of being one of the countries behind the foreign interference in Canada.

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    Sanskriti Falor is a Senior Content Producer at the News Desk of HT Digital. Having worked in Digital Media for the past two years, she is interested in covering civic issues and global affairs.

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