After PM Modi snub to Trudeau, Canada puts off trade mission to India

    Tribune News Service

    Sandeep Dikshit

    New Delhi, September 16

    Canada has announced the postponement of its trade mission to India in October.A spokesperson for Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng confirmed the calling off of the trip but gave no reasons.

    Sources here say the talks on a Canada-India Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) as a precursor to a FTA have been put on hold due to political issues. They declined to give reasons but other sources have indicated that the main reasons are Ottawa’s inaction to threats to Indian diplomats – two of whom were posted out of the country as a result – and the obnoxiousness and aggressiveness on display during Khalistani parades.

    The postponement reverses the gradual warming of ties since December last year when India had restored the e-visa facility for Canadian passport holders. Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie also had in-person meetings with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at least thrice besides two telephonic conversations. Canada’s recently-announced Indo-Pacific strategy also noted that India provides “strategic importance and leadership—both across the region and globally”.

    In May, Ng and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal issued a joint statement hoping to take measures to step up trade and investment tie by the year-end.

    However in June, Ottawa allowed a parade in Brampton, Ontario, that showed a tasteless float of former PM Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

    At the G20 Summit, PM Narendra Modi had at over a dozen structured bilaterals with other world leaders but Trudeau was the only leader with whom he held a “pull aside’’ or a casual meeting. This was interpreted as Indian displeasure towards continuing Khalistani activities with the MEA stating after the meeting that South Block had reiterated its “strong concerns about continuing anti-India activities” including “inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises, and threatening the Indian community in Canada.’’

    In fact, the day PMs Modi and Trudeau held the “pull-aside” meeting, the Khalistanis held a “referendum” in Surrey at which designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu had brandished threats at PM Modi, Jaishankar and other leaders. Encouraged by the non-response from the Canadian Government, the Khalistanis have planned another “referendum” on October 29. Trudeau has said the separatist activity was an expression of “freedom of expression”.


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