Expert believes Canada may be only at the start of a months-long diplomatic row with India, as allies await more information on accusations that New Delhi played a role in the death of a Canadian citizen.
Roland Paris, who heads the Graduate School of International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, says countries have issued contradictory statements, making it difficult to find common ground.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canadian intelligence services were investigating “a potential link” between the Indian government and the death of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia.
India calls the claims “absurd and motivated,” leading Trudeau to urge India to take the allegations seriously and cooperate with a police investigation.
Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat on Monday.
India then expelled a Canadian envoy, arguing it was because Canada feared harboring extremists who wanted a separate country for Sikhs.
Paris says the diplomatic chill is only just beginning, and it’s unclear whether those tensions will improve or worsen as the investigation continues.
“We are in the early stages of this period of diplomatic tension between the two countries,” he said in an interview.
“This is going to be difficult now that the Indian government has publicly opposed and categorically denied these allegations. »
Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau, noted that there had been reports that the government had gone public with the accusation after questions from the media and rumors in diaspora communities.
He said the whole issue highlights the importance of combating foreign interference broadly.
“It is important that Canada works closely with its allies to resist these kinds of pressures,” Paris said.
“But above all, we must be able to resist them here at home. We live in a much more dangerous world and we cannot rely on our allies as much as in the past. We really need to make sure we’re protecting Canadians in this area.
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Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre asked Trudeau to share more information about the intelligence Ottawa has, and former Liberal Foreign Minister Marc Garneau also said the government should back up its claims with more details.
Paris said it was unclear whether India would retaliate against Canada, such as by blocking trade or delaying visas, and that it was possible Ottawa would take similar action against Canada. ‘India.
But he noted that India and Canada generally consider each other friends, despite long-standing tensions over Sikh separatists.
“I don’t anticipate much movement unless more information comes to light,” Paris said.
“It looks like they were really trying to work behind the scenes and use behind-the-scenes diplomacy to produce results directly with the Indians and with the help of close Canadian allies. It clearly didn’t work in the end.
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