‘Controversial motion moved by MP may cause irreparable damage to India-Canada ties’

‘Controversial motion moved by MP may cause irreparable damage to India-Canada ties’

Toronto: A controversial motion moved by an Indo-Canadian MP from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party, targeting India, has been criticised for its potential to cause irreparable damage to relations between New Delhi and Ottawa.

Indo-Canadian MP Sukh Dhaliwal who has brought the motion before the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Canada. (Credit: Sukh Dhaliwal’s Office)

The private member’s motion was moved on February 12, by Sukh Dhaliwal, MP from the riding (as constituencies are called in Canada) of Surrey-Newton in the province of British Columbia, and seconded by several others, including six more Indo-Canadian MPs.

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The motion’s text stated it wants the House of recognise that “recent events, including the credible allegations of a link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, at a place of worship on Canadian soil, are examples of rising forms of intimidation, threats, and interference from countries such as India, China, Russia, Iran, and others”.

Nijjar was killed on June 18 last year in Surrey, British Columbia. The principal organiser in the province for the secessionist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), Nijjar was considered a terrorist in India though those allegations were not tested in a Canadian court. His killing impacted bilateral ties after Trudeau stated in the House on September 18 that there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and the murder.

In a letter to Dhaiwal, the Board of Directors of the Canada India Foundation (CIF), the apex community group, said, “This motion is a cynical attempt to target a particular country and the Hindu community using yet unproven and unverified allegations as a cover.”

“This Motion if passed will be one more initiative in a lengthy list of provocations that will damage the Canada India relationship. As an organisation keen to see our bilateral issues resolved, we are concerned that the disproportionate influence exercised by a violent minority continues to cast a shadow on our domestic politics and foreign policy,” CIF noted.

Also opposing the motion by Liberal Party MP Chandra Arya. In a letter, he said, “With no evidence presented and proven in our judicial system, the motion if passed, starts a dangerous precedent where mere allegations get legitimised by the Parliament of Canada.”

“The motion M-112, if passed, will further encourage the well-organised and well-funded anti-India and anti-Hindu groups in Canada and will escalate the fear of Hindu-Canadians about the safety of their families,” the letter added, as Arya called upon his fellow Liberal MPs not to support the motion.

Arya was attacked for that stand, as in a joint statement, Moninder Singh, spokesperson of the British Columbia Gurdwaras Council and Amarjit Mann, spokesperson of the Ontario Gurdwaras Committee, called for his resignation. “We would like to remind Mr Arya that he is an elected official for the Government of Canada and should behave accordingly rather than seeking to promote Indian interests within Canadian institutions,” the statement said.

Moninder Singh, a proponent of Khalistan, had most recently said he felt India or its actors were responsible for the firing at the residence of pro-Khalistan figure Simranjeet Singh on February 1. However, police later said there was no evidence of foreign interference in that case.

Dhaliwal is a veteran politician, and also a member of the Canada-China Legislative Association as three other MPs who have seconded it. Other than him, six others Indo-Canadian Liberal MPs have seconded the motion. All the seconders, other than one Bloc Quebecois MP are from the Liberal Party or the New Democratic Party (NDP).

“We have no quarrel with any legitimate inquiry by our government and will abide by its findings when and if published. However, using a yet-to-be proven allegation as a key point in Motion 112 is an attempt to further create divisions and hurt Canada’s bilateral interests with India,” the letter sent by CIF stressed.

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