Toronto, September 24
Terming the relationship with India as "important", Canada's Defence Minister Bill Blair on Sunday said his country would keep pursuing partnerships like the Indo-Pacific strategy while the investigation of the killing of a Sikh separatist leader continued.
Tensions flared between India and Canada following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's explosive allegations of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, on his country's soil on June 18 in British Columbia. India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.
India angrily rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official.
Canada had been seeking deeper trade, defence and immigration ties with India before the “credible intelligence,” as Trudeau called it, was first raised with Canadian officials, Global News reported.
In an interview aired on Sunday on The West Block, Blair suggested Canada would continue to pursue those partnerships while the investigation into allegations continued, calling the relationship with India “important”.
“We understand that this can be, and has proven to be, a challenging issue with respect to our relationship with India,” he was quoted as saying by Global News.
“But at the same time, we have the responsibility to defend the law, defend our citizens, and at the same time make sure that we conduct a thorough investigation and get to the truth.”
If the allegations are proven true, Blair said “there is a very significant concern that Canada will have with respect to the violation of our sovereignty in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil”.
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