• Monday, May 20, 2024

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Trudeau raises Nijjar’s killing in election interference inquiry

The ties between India and Canada were strained last year after Trudeau’s allegations of a ‘potential’ involvement of Indian agents in Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing in Surrey. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Vivek MishraBy: Vivek Mishra

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought up the killing of Khalistani Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil last year during a public inquiry into foreign interference in Canadian elections, saying that his government stood up to defend the rights and freedoms of all its citizens.

Speaking at the high-profile hearing on Wednesday, Trudeau criticised the previous government for being “cozy” with the Indian government.

Trudeau’s comments were made in the context of a discussion on his government’s response to intelligence about foreign interference during the 2019 and 2021 elections, according to the live-streaming videos being shared by local media in Canada.

The ties between India and Canada were strained last year after Trudeau’s allegations in September of a “potential” involvement of Indian agents in Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing outside a gurdwara in Surrey city on June 18 last year. India, which had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020, has strongly rejected Trudeau’s allegations as “absurd” and “motivated.”

In his testimony, Trudeau detailed the role of the National Security and Intelligence Advisor in handling intelligence inputs, including actions taken against Chinese influence operations targeting Chinese Canadians.

He mentioned an intelligence report received three months after the 2019 election, underscoring the principle of protecting Canadians from foreign extortion, coercion, and interference.

“And how we have stood up for Canadians, including in the very serious case that I brought forward to Parliament of the killing of Nijjar, demonstrates our government’s commitment to defending the rights and freedoms of Canadians for which so many people crossed oceans and continents,” Trudeau said, addressing criticisms of inaction on foreign interference.

He further defended his government’s record on handling foreign interference, contrasting it with the previous Conservative government’s approach toward the Indian government. “I think that’s certainly a question one needs to ask of the previous Conservative government that was known for its very cozy relationship with the current Indian government,” Trudeau remarked.

Asserting his government’s stance on minority rights, Trudeau said, “We have always stood up to defend minorities in Canada and the rights of minorities to speak out, even if it irritates their home countries overseas.”

Trudeau was the last witness in the first phase of the inquiry, led by Quebec judge Marie-Josée Hogue, lasting nearly two hours. The inquiry was initiated after pressure from opposition parties and reports on a Chinese operation aimed at influencing the 2019 and 2021 elections, both won by Trudeau’s Liberal Party.

(PTI)

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