United Nations: While reiterating allegations that India was behind the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Ottawa was not seeking to provoke India.
He however refused to share evidence behind his allegations.
Speaking at a news conference here on Thursday, he said, “We are not looking to provoke or cause problems (with India).”
“There is no question that India is 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,” he said.
“But we are unequivocal around the importance of the rule of law and unequivocal about the importance of protecting Canadians and standing up for our values,” he said.
And that is why Canada was asking India to work with it “to establish processes to discover and to uncover the truth of the matter and to allow justice and accountability to be served”.
India has vehemently denied the allegations first made by Trudeau in parliament on Monday.
Three months on, there have been no arrests in the shooting of Nijjar on June 18 outside a Sikh centre in Surrey in British Columbia.
Trudeau ruled out tit-for-tat action for India suspending visas for Canadians.
He called for “calm” and said that Canada is a safe country.
Trudeau avoided directly answering repeated questions by reporters about the evidence he had, asserting that the justice processes should continue with integrity.
“There are credible allegations that we need to take extremely seriously as Canadians and indeed as a world,” he said.
“I can assure you the decision to share these allegations on the floor of the House of Commons Monday … was done with the utmost seriousness,” he said.
“I think it’s extremely important that as a country with a strong and independent justice system, we allow those justice processes to unfold themselves with the utmost integrity,” he said.
He said that he had “a direct and frank conversation with the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi), in which I shared my concerns in no uncertain terms”.
Asked about the suspension of visa services by India, he indicated that there would be no reciprocal action right now.
He said: “We are going to continue to do the work necessary to keep Canadians safe and to uphold our values and the international rules-based order. That’s our focus right now.”
People of Indian origin who are not Sikh and Hindu organisations have expressed fears for their safety after receiving threats, and Indian diplomatic missions have come under attack.
He was not directly asked about this, but when asked about the New Delhi Canadian High Commission’s safety he gave an assurance of protection for all in Canada.
“In terms of safety in Canada and the safety of Canadians, we always take the safety of Canadians extremely seriously, whether at home or overseas. I can assure everyone that Canada is a safe country.”
“I continue to call for calm and for Canadians to remain true to who we are: Open, respectful, grounded and respect and trust in our institutions and our law enforcement and justice systems.”
When a reporter said that Nijjar had told Canadian law enforcement about threats to his life and asked if there would be a review of how that was handled, Trudeau said: “I think there will be.”
Trudeau did not give a direct reply to questions about Canada’s allies’ reactions.
A reporter asked him if he had asked other leaders to condemn India, while another compared the solid support that Canada got from its Western allies when Canadian citizens were held by China with the tepid response to his allegations about India.
Trudeau said: “We are ensuring that Canadians stay protected and that we stand up for the international rules-based order. That is something that we are doing and it’s something we are doing alongside our allies.”