Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada must stand up for the international rules-based order after accusing Indian agents of orchestrating the murder of a Canadian Sikh leader. But he acknowledged India is also a country of “growing importance” that the West — including Canada — must continue to work with.
(Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada must stand up for the international rules-based order after accusing Indian agents of orchestrating the murder of a Canadian Sikh leader. But he acknowledged India is also a country of “growing importance” that the West — including Canada — must continue to work with.
Trudeau, speaking to reporters in New York, said Canada will let its independent justice system carry on investigating the murder, and did not provide more details about the evidence behind his claim. India’s government has demanded that Trudeau lay out his proof.
“We’re standing up for the rule of law,” Trudeau said. “We’re highlighting how unacceptable it would be for any country to be involved in the killing of a citizen on their own home soil.”
On Monday, Trudeau told Canada’s parliament that there are “credible allegations” Indian agents are linked to the slaying of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was shot dead in a Vancouver suburb in June. India’s government has strongly rejected the accusation and responded with measures aimed at curbing travel between the two nations.
Trudeau stressed that he could not publicly release evidence while police are investigating the murder. “We have an obligation to ensure that those processes unfold in a rigorous and independent manner,” he said.
The Canadian leader called on the Indian government to cooperate with the investigation. He indicated that he is not seeking to further damage relations between the nations, calling India “a country of growing importance, and a country that we need to continue to work with, not just in the region but around the world.”
“We’re not looking to provoke or cause problems,” Trudeau said. “But we are unequivocal around the importance of the rule of law.”
A key member of Trudeau’s government, Treasury Board President Anita Anand, also voiced support on Thursday for a continued economic relationship with India. “We have to recognize that the people-to-people ties, the business-to-business ties, the trade ties, the economic ties between our countries are strong and that they will continue.”
The response of Canada’s closest allies to the explosive allegation has been relatively muted, underscoring the growing geopolitical importance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government as a counterbalance to China.
The US and UK have expressed support for Canada’s ongoing investigation, but neither have followed Trudeau’s lead in reducing their diplomatic presence in India or halting efforts to expand trade with the nation of 1.4 billion people.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Thursday that he “firmly rejects” the idea that there is a wedge between the US and Canada. “We have deep concerns about the allegations, and we would like to see this investigation carried forward, and the perpetrators held to account.”
Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, also rebuffed any suggestion that allies were not backing his country forcefully.
“I think everyone’s trying to weigh how to go forward,” Rae told reporters in New York. “I can tell you, I don’t think Canada stands alone in this regard at all. I’m very sure that there will be a great deal of support as time goes on.”
He also urged patience in waiting for more information to come out. A homicide investigation unit in British Columbia is leading the probe of Nijjar’s slaying. No one has been charged.
“The facts will emerge,” Rae said. “This has to come out in the course of the pursuit of justice in Canada. That’s how our system works.”
–With assistance from Jennifer Jacobs.
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