By Craig Westcott
September 22, 2023 Edition
The timing of Justin Trudeau’s announcement last week that the Indian government is responsible for the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar this past June raises questions.
It comes as Trudeau is waist deep in a political quagmire of his own making, pulling the fortunes of his government down with him.
From the housing crisis, to homelessness, to the fentanyl crisis, to inflation, to too much immigration, Canadians are growing increasingly frustrated with Trudeau, and the polls reflect it.
One hopes the Prime Minister has not started a diplomatic war with India to change the channel on his political troubles. The police haven’t charged anyone with the murder of the Sikh activist yet, so it seems premature to castigate India publicly for a crime that hasn’t been solved.
While the timing for Trudeau is great, it couldn’t be worse for our international relations. India is a growing power, on the verge of becoming a superpower. It is also, unfortunately for Canada and the other NATO countries, neutral on the war in Ukraine. India has been happy to play footsie with Russia as much as it does with the west. The western alliance doesn’t want to see India shamed into an alliance with the likes of Russia and China.
Nobody has said it, but you can imagine U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spitting their coffees across their respective breakfast tables when they got word Trudeau planned to blame India for a political assassination on Canadian soil.
Trudeau and his allies have been spinning this crime as the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil and equating it to China’s covert interference in Canadian politics and elections.
But China’s efforts to nominate and help China-friendly Liberal candidates to the disadvantage of Conservative candidates is much different than India dealing with a former Indian citizen who was allegedly involved in terrorist activities and political plots in India while enjoying refuge in Canada.
Some might argue Nijjar should never have been in Canada. According to Global News, the head of the Surrey, B.C., Sikh temple first came here in 1997 claiming refugee status under a false passport. That refugee claim was rejected. Eleven days later he married a Canadian woman, who sponsored him for immigration. That application too was turned down. Still, he was allowed to stay in the country, eventually opening a plumbing business and becoming head of a temple. According to India, plumbing wasn’t his only occupation. He was accused, or suspected, of being a terrorist with involvement in a 2007 bombing in Punjab, where some Sikhs are fighting, sometimes literally, to break away from India and form their own state. Indian media also claimed Nijjar was connected to the murder last year of Ripudaman Singh Malik, a Surrey resident who was accused, but later acquitted, of involvement in the infamous Air India bombing in 1985. That was the flight that left Montreal for London and blew up in the air because of a terrorist bomb, killing all 329 people on board, including 268 Canadian citizens.
It could be argued that harbouring Nijjar in Canada would be like India, or some other country, harbouring FLQ terrorists who advocated violence and the separation of Quebec. This is not to say the extrajudicial killing of Nijjar by India, if that’s what it proves to be, was right. Definitely not. But if the Sikh leader was as involved in the political machinations of Punjab, India as he appears to have been, he should not have been doing so under the protection of Canadian citizenship. We don’t want China interfering in our politics, so why should we allow Canadians to interfere in someone else’s unless there are gross human rights abuses happening?