New Delhi: After India summoned the Canadian envoy and warned of a damage to the two countries’ relationship, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his country stood for the “rights of peaceful protests anywhere in the world,” adding that he was pleased to see a move made towards dialogue.
On Friday, India had summoned the Canadian high commissioner Nadir Patel and issued a démarche over remarks made by Trudeau on the protests by lakhs of farmers against the three farm laws brought by the Centre.
During a press interaction, when a reporter asked Trudeau for his response to the Canadian envoy being summoned and warned of damage to bilateral relationship, he said, “Canada will always stand for the rights of peaceful protests anywhere in the world and we are pleased to see moves towards de-escalation and dialogue.”
When the reporter persisted and asked if he was worried about the harm to ties, Trudeau reiterated, “Canada will always stand for the rights of peaceful protests and human rights anywhere in the world.”
Patel went to the foreign ministry at around 12.30 pm, as per sources. India informed him that “comments by the Canadian Prime Minister, some Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament on issues relating to Indian farmers constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs”.
The Ministry of External Affairs further cautioned, “Such actions, if continued, would have a seriously damaging impact on ties between India and Canada”.
It noted that comments by Trudeau and other Canadian politicians “have encouraged gatherings of extremist activities in front of our High Commission and Consulates in Canada that raise issues of safety and security”. The MEA press statement added that India expects “the Canadian Government to ensure the fullest security of Indian diplomatic personnel and its political leaders to refrain from pronouncements that legitimise extremist activism”.
The first immediate fallout of the remarks is that Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar will not take part in next week’s meeting of the Group of Foreign Ministers to devise a COVID-19 strategy. The meeting has been convened by the Canadian foreign minister François-Philippe Champagne. This was first reported by ThePrint, and confirmed by The Wire from sources. The Indian minister had attended the last virtual meeting on November 3.
Trudeau had stated in a Facebook live event on Monday that he wanted to recognise the news coming out of India about the protests by farmers. “The situation is concerning, and we are all very worried about family and friends. I know that’s the reality for many of you,” said the Canadian prime minister.
He asserted that Canada stood for peaceful protests and had conveyed to the Indian government the need for engaging in a dialogue. “Let me remind you that Canada will always be there to defend the right to peaceful protest. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we have reached out through multiple means directly to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns,” said Trudeau at the virtual interaction to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
Indian farmers, largely from Punjab and Haryana, are in a sit-down on the borders of New Delhi as part of protests against new Central farm laws. As they walked and rode through Haryana on November 26, they had to face water cannon, barbed wires, barricades and tear gas shells. Currently, farmer leaders are in talks with the Central government over their set of demands.