Canada-India Trade Mission Postponed, Deepening Diplomatic Rift
Canada has postponed its trade mission to India, adding to the strained relationship between the two countries amidst rising diplomatic tensions and objections over political developments.
Canada has announced that it will be postponing its trade mission to India, adding to the strained relationship between the two countries. The decision comes amidst rising diplomatic tensions between Ottawa and New Delhi. Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng's spokesperson, Shanti Cosentino, confirmed the change on Friday, but did not provide a reason for the delay. Indian officials also revealed that negotiations for a trade deal were on hold due to objections over "political developments in Canada." The talks to boost trade and investment between Canada and India have been ongoing since May, but have hit numerous roadblocks.
Most recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose not to hold a formal bilateral meeting with Canadian leader Justin Trudeau during the recent G20 summit in New Delhi. Many saw this as a snub. During a pull-aside meeting, Modi criticized Canada's handling of recent Sikh protests. The controversy surrounding the Sikh protests has cast a shadow over Indian-Canadian relations. In June, videos circulated of a parade float in Ontario themed after the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The Indian government viewed this as a celebration of separatist violence and expressed concerns about anti-India activities in Canada.
Canada, which has the largest Sikh population outside of Punjab, including separatist groups advocating for an independent Sikh state called Khalistan, defended freedom of expression and peaceful protest. However, Indian officials raised issues of violence against Indian diplomats and threats to the Indian community in Canada. The tension between Canada and India is further complicated by the rise of conservative Hindu nationalism under Modi's leadership.
However, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau emphasized that the actions of a few individuals do not represent the entire community or Canada as a whole. The strained relations between the two countries have led to the pause in trade treaty talks. These trade negotiations between Canada and India have been ongoing since 2010, facing several setbacks. The decision to postpone the trade mission and put the talks on hold adds to the already strained relationship between the two countries. It remains to be seen how this delay will impact future trade negotiations and the overall relationship between Canada and India.