No, We Didn’t Talk About Atwal, Says Trudeau on Meeting Modi

Trudeau looks to improve ties between the Canadian Government and the CM of Punjab.

3 min read

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau addressed the media at Delhi’s Taj Diplomatic Conclave on Friday, 23 February. Trudeau took questions from the Canadian media as well, and some of these were based on the Jaspal Atwal controversy, his interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and his week-long India trip.

Terming the trip extremely encouraging, Trudeau said that the reaction the people have had towards the Canadian delegation and himself – ranging from business meetings, religious meetings, cultural meetings, even his dressing, everything has been extremely encouraging for the Indian-Canadian relationship.

When asked about Canadian MP Randeep Sarai taking responsibility for the invite to Atwal, Trudeau said the situation is unacceptable and that the Khalistan separatist should not have been invited to the event. He further said he will be holding a conversation with Sarai in Canada, next week.

On being asked if the MP will be reprimanded as he has embarrassed the country as well as Trudeau himself, he said:

This has been an excellent trip and has been an opportunity to deepen people-to-people ties, highlight the deep friendship on political, cultural and business levels between India and Canada. This is something we are continuing to work on, the business announcements we made of a billion dollars of back and forth investments, close to 6,000 jobs created in Canada but like I said, I will have a conversation with the MP when we return to Canada.  

Trudeau was also asked if he apologised to Modi about Atwal.

We spoke as we often do in each of our meetings about the continued way that both countries collaborate on a broad range of issues, including security issues, we repeated our determination to work together around the shared values of pluralism and respect while having zero tolerance for violent extremism and terrorism. We actually didn’t talk about Atwal.

However, the toughest question the Canadian PM faced was:

A Canadian government official has been suggesting that political elements in India may have orchestrated the arrival of Mr Atwal in India and possibly even his invitation as a way of undermining you in terms of making you look soft on sikh extremism. Thats coming from one of the officials from your government, do you share the same view?

Trudeau, however, dodged the question saying that the relations between both governments are really strong.

On being asked if he would have done anything differently on this trip, considering the criticism he has faced, Trudeau said, “This trip has been tremendously positive from the business side. The opportunity to highlight the diversity of India through having visited major religious sites across the country, to highlight the peaceful pluralism that is at the heart of India and Canada’s success. The opportunity to connect with leading figures in Bollywood and various cultural industries but mostly, the strength of the Indo-Canadian community of all backgrounds represented here by our teams but also the many Canadians of Indian heritage who have joined us on this trip and have demonstrated the depths of the friendship and the positive outlook on how this relationship is gonna continue to evolve.”

The Canadian Prime Minister seemed pleased with the strategy used for this trip. He said:

We are going to continue to do one thing that we did very well on this trip, while I was visiting four different areas, our ministers each branched out to different cities I wasn’t able to visit. We covered a lot more ground and had more interactions.

On the list of names given to him by Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, Trudeau said, “The Canadian government regularly receives such information and we make appropriate follow ups. I have passed on the list to the intelligence agencies who’ll do the needful.”

Singh gave Trudeau a list of nine Canada-based operatives who allegedly sponsored hate crimes in Punjab.

Trudeau said he also looks to improve ties between the Canadian government and the CM of Punjab.

“I was pleased to be able to refresh the relations between Punjab and Canadian governments. I think this is an important relationship that we know is important to a hundreds of thousands of Canadians. There are many steps to come in improving this relationship.”

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