After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau linked India to an alleged extrajudicial assassination, Public Safety Canada assured residents their foreign interference inquiry would exclude India.
On September 20, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters the public inquiry would not delve into the activities of Indian diplomats and their intelligence networks.
"Should India be added to the inquiry into foreign interference?" asked a reporter. LeBlanc replied: "We don't need to add India."
He clarified that India's alleged involvement in the shooting of a controversial Khalistan supporter is considered an active police matter, reported Blacklock's Reporter.
"What we're doing is ensuring that there's an appropriate criminal investigation into these circumstances," said the minister. "I think commenting further will prevent the RCMP from doing the important work they have to do."
LeBlanc took no further questions on the ongoing RCMP investigation.
In a September 19 letter to Inquiry Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh urged an expansion of her mandate into foreign interference to include India.
"The intelligence referenced publicly by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau [in the House of Commons the day prior] shows that agents of the Indian government are linked to the killing of a Canadian citizen — Hardeep Singh Nijjar — on Canadian soil, making the inclusion of India in your work an absolute necessity," he wrote.
Cabinet on September 18 said it had "credible allegations" against Indian agents in the fatal June 18 shooting of Nijjar.
"Some Canadians fear for their lives because of threats from foreign governments like India. Their voices must be heard," said Singh.
"The news that Canadians are unsafe in their own country gives your work new urgency. For many in our communities, fear of harassment, violence and retribution from foreign agents is too common."
The shocking announcement by Trudeau coincided with the first day of preparatory work by Hogue into alleged election interference by Chinese agents.
"In the terms of reference, it talks about Russia, China, other state and non-state actors," said LeBlanc.
"We contemplated in the discussions throughout the summer with my opposition colleagues that Commissioner Hogue should be able to follow the evidence and not only focus on those two countries but go to other countries."
New Democrat MPs sponsored a motion in the Commons on May 31 that proposed a public inquiry to include all states suspected of foreign interference, specifically China, India, Iran, and Russia. The motion passed but is non-binding on the federal government.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, Hogue's mandate under the Inquiries Act states she is to "examine and assess interference by China, Russia and other foreign states or non-state actors" to confirm the integrity of the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.
Singh contends the terms of Hogue's mandate exclude India, which he said are broad enough to go "where the evidence leads."
"The safety and security of Canadians and the rights to freedom of speech are necessary ingredients in a functioning and healthy democracy," he said.
"In my experience, as a Sikh-Canadian, there have always been suspicions that India was interfering in the democratic rights of Canadians."
An initial report on the inquiry is due February 19, 2024, with a follow-up expected around the end of the year or in 2025.
According to a September 7 cabinet order, the second report will examine and assess the federal capacity to "detect, deter and counter any form of foreign interference directly or indirectly targeting Canada's democratic processes."