‘Costly Vacay’, ‘Joke’: Canadian Press on Trudeau’s India Visit

“Too bad the younger Trudeau doesn’t have that commitment to Canada,” wrote the Toronto Sun in their editorial.

4 min read
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with his family in Amritsar.

Justin Trudeau first visited India 35 years ago, along with his father and then Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. During his current eight-day bilateral visit, Justin Trudeau reportedly remarked that his father did not accompany the family on "sight-seeing excusions" and he was "busy" working.

However, Canadian news organisations broke down Trudeau's bilateral visit day-by-day, calling him out for his "sight-seeing excursions," the Trudeau family’s Indian attire, his stand on the controversial Khalistan issue, using the trip as a tool for upcoming elections, and more.

“Too bad the younger Trudeau doesn’t have that commitment to Canada,” wrote the Toronto Sun in their editorial.

This was not the only scathing criticism the visiting prime minister received.

“Vacation on Tax-Payers’ Money”

The Canadian prime minister's began his trip by visiting Taj Mahal in Agra. Soon after, he went to Sabarmati Ashram and Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad, the Golden Temple in Amristar, and also visited the Jama Masjid in New Delhi.

‘Costly Vacay’, ‘Joke’: Canadian Press on Trudeau’s India Visit

The literary reflected "more time for tourism" than diplomacy, pointed The Star in their editorial. It also took a dig at the Canadian first family’s costumes.

Such costumes are unusual for world leaders – and for good reason. As many have pointed out, Indians don’t actually dress like that, except maybe on their wedding day.
The Sun editorial

Invitation to Atwal an Act of “Great Carelessness”

Much of the alleged drubbing received by the Canadian prime minister has been attributed to his government’s soft stand on the Khalistan separatist issue.

The Globe and Mail, in their editorial, wrote that Indian political leaders were “chronically suspicious” of the country’s “soft attitude” toward Sikh separatism and the alleged violence sometimes associated with it. A key aim of the trip was to reassure the Indian government that Canada supported a unified India, but the editorials claimed that dinner invitation to Khalistan separatist Jaspal Atwal did the opposite.

Atwal was convicted of attempting to kill Indian cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in Vancouver in 1986.

“After all, how would Canadians feel if a foreign head of state was seen as promoting the FLQ – a terrorist organization responsible for bombings and murders in pursuit of Quebec independence in the 1960s? Canadians would be rightfully upset and suspicious, as many of our Indian friends are of Trudeau and his Liberal delegation,” wrote the Toronto Sun.

The Canadian press termed the government inviting ex-convict Atwal for an official dinner as "great carelessness" that could "potentially (be) very costly" for the relations between the two countries.

“It was a huge embarrassment for a prime minister who’s had to spend some of his time here trying to convince people he’s not a radical Sikh sympathizer. The perception in some corners that he might be led to speculation that was the reason Modi didn’t show up to greet him at the airport,” The Globe and Mail wrote.
‘Costly Vacay’, ‘Joke’: Canadian Press on Trudeau’s India Visit

“Carefully Designed for 2019 Elections”

In yet another editorial column in the Globe and Mail, senior Canadian journalist Gary Mason points out how the trip was not to bring "blockbuster business deals" to Canada, but was carefully designed keeping in mind the federal elections in 2019.

It is to be noted, the journalist pointed out that half a million Sikh diaspora call Canada their home and that the group holds a considerable influence on the election battleground.

“This trip was never intended to be about signing blockbuster business deals. It was a taxpayer-funded photo shoot for the next election. Trudeau was playing as much to the crowd back home as he was the folks he was meeting in India.”

“What. A. Mess”

Summarising Trudeau’s India visit as a “mess,” the Globe and Mail wrote that he appeared “facile and foolish.” The Star termed his visit a “rather costly joke.”

‘Costly Vacay’, ‘Joke’: Canadian Press on Trudeau’s India Visit
“Trudeau has generally fared well on international trips, deploying his charm and charisma to great effect. But the international-headline-making disaster in India raises old questions about the prime minister’s seriousness. Blundering around in his overly formal Indian outfits, inviting an alleged terrorist to dinner, Trudeau made of this important trip a bad – and potentially rather costly – joke,” wrote the Star.

(With inputs from the Star, Globe and Mail, and Toronto Sun)

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