Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he raised the issue of foreign interference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to New Delhi, as Canada prepares to launch a public inquiry into the matter.
“Diaspora Canadians make up a huge proportion of our country, and they should be able to express themselves and make their choices without interference from any of the many countries that we know are involved in interference challenges,” Mr. Trudeau said on Sept. 10 in his post-G20 press conference.
The prime minister said he had delivered the same message on foreign interference to Mr. Modi that he gives to all of Canada’s partners and allies and to other countries of concern.
He said this message entails “respect for the rule of law,” for the “integrity and sovereignty of democratic institutions and processes,” and the “respect for the sovereign choices of citizens in an of a given country to choose their future.”
Mr. Trudeau was completing a tour of Asia on Sept. 10 which saw him visit Indonesia and Singapore before going to India to attend the G20 Summit.
Before going to New Delhi there were questions of whether Mr. Trudeau would even meet with Mr. Modi, in the context of trade talks being put on hold and diplomatic tensions over Sikh activism in Canada.
The readout from India’s Ministry of External Affairs says Mr. Modi conveyed New Delhi’s “strong concerns about 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,” said the statement.
The harsh statement from India isn’t the only sign from the trip that relations are strained between the leaders, with Mr. Trudeau reportedly pulling his hand away from Mr. Modi’s during a wreath-laying ceremony. The Canadian prime minister was also absent from Mr. Modi’s leaders’ dinner.
“I’ll let you read into what you like,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters about the handshake controversy. And he said not attending the leaders’ dinner was because of “scheduling.”
Before the official visit to India, Canadian government officials said trade talks with India had been put on pause, but no reason was given.