Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 11
A glitch in vaccine imports that left parts of the country uncovered by inoculation compelled Canadian Prime Minister Justin Turdeau to call up PM Narendra Modi on Wednesday night despite a slight strain in ties due the farmers’ agitation.
South Block capitalised on Trudeau having to fall back on India despite strained ties by only highlighting his request for the supply of vaccines. Moments before Trudeau made the phone call to Modi, the Canadian opposition had seized on the breaking down of the vaccine supply chain to embarrass the Trudeau government.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Trudeau had also said if the world managed to conquer Covid, it would be also due to India’s tremendous pharmaceutical capacity, and Modi’s leadership in sharing this capacity with the world. “Modi thanked Trudeau for his sentiments,” added the statement.
The Health Minister was pointedly asked by her rival shadow Health Minister if Canada was planning to approach India for emergency requisitioning of vaccines. The questioning was against the background of Ottawa’s strained diplomatic ties with India, first over supporting separatists and recently on the farmers’ agitation. The minister was non-committal but embarrassed after New Delhi let it be known that Trudeau had called up Modi seeking vaccines.
Ottawa attempted to retrieve some of the ground by stating that Trudeau discussed many important issues, including the farmers’ protests.
“The leaders discussed the two countries’ commitment to democratic principles, recent protests, and the importance of resolving issues through dialogue,” his office said in a statement.
However, both New Delhi and Ottawa pointed to the several areas of convergence such as a free and open Indo-Pacific, climate change, global trade and reinforcing a rules-based international order.
In December, Trudeau had earned New Delhi’s ire by stating that Canada would always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protests, and had expressed concern over the situation. The MEA had then summoned Canadian High Commissioner Nadir Patel and informed him that the Canadian PM’s comments were “unacceptable interference” in the country’s internal affairs and could have a "seriously damaging" impact on the bilateral ties.
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