Commission seeks information on India in Canada foreign interference probe

OTTAWA (Reuters) – An independent commission probing alleged foreign interference in Canada asked the Trudeau government on Wednesday to share information about possible meddling in elections by India, a development that could aggravate already-tense Ottawa-New Delhi relations.

The commission was set up by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government in September to conduct a public inquiry into foreign meddling in Canadian affairs after reports of alleged Chinese attempts to influence elections and mounting pressure for an inquiry. Beijing has repeatedly denied any interference.

The commission said in a statement on Wednesday that it had requested the Canadian government to provide documents “relating to alleged interference by India related to the 2019 and 2021 elections.”

“The commission will also examine the flow of information within the federal government in relation to these issues, evaluate the actions taken in response, assess the federal government’s capacity to detect, deter, and counter foreign interference, and make recommendations on these issues,” it said.

The commission, led by Quebec Judge Marie-Josee Hogue, is charged with conducting an independent public inquiry into allegations of attempted foreign interference in Canadian affairs by China, Russia and others. It is expected to complete an interim report by May 3 and deliver its final report by the end of this year.

Diplomatic relations between India and Canada have frayed in recent months over Canada’s allegations linking Indian agents to the murder of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia last year. India has rejected that allegation. Canadian authorities have yet to charge anyone with the killing.

The Indian High Commission in Ottawa did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)