Indo-Canadian relations continue to deteriorate as the Asian Pacific nation reportedly ordered the removal of 41 Canadian diplomats, despite calls to normalize ties once again.
On October 3rd, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly attempted to address the escalating situation caused by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who accused the Indian government of being involved in the assassination of a controversial Sikh leader in Surrey last June.
The federal government has not yet announced whether it will publicly disclose evidence to support the prime minister’s claim.
As first reported by the Financial Times, Canada has until October 10 to remove two-thirds of their personnel from the country.
While the minister did not comment on India expelling 41 of 62 Canadian diplomats, she pivoted to the importance of maintaining diplomatic ties with allies and adversaries.
“We believe in the importance of having a strong diplomatic footprint in India,” she told reporters Tuesday morning, despite expelling a senior Indian diplomat last month.
The Indian government has strongly denied the allegations but expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in retaliation.
“In moments of tension because these are tensions between both our governments, it is more than ever important that diplomats be on the ground,” said Joly.
However, Global Affairs Canada announced last month it would reduce the number of staff on diplomatic missions to India, citing safety concerns.
They also said the Indian government asked them to reduce its diplomatic footprint on the subcontinent for the time being.
On Tuesday, the minister clarified that Canada will continue to engage India “privately” as sensitive diplomatic talks of this nature go smoother “when they remain private.”
As of writing, India has over 60 accredited diplomats in Canada, including three who are non-residents.
Trudeau commented on the budding tensions with India, calling it “extremely challenging” to have “diplomats on the ground working with the Indian government.”
“We are going to be doing the work that matters and continuing to have constructive relations with India through this extremely difficult time,” he told reporters.
Despite calls for easing their quarrel, relations between India and Canada show no signs of normalizing in the immediate future.
Canada and India have been at odds publicly since the G20 Summit in New Delhi, which failed to make meaningful progress on a trade agreement, since talks halted and the former cancelled a trade mission to India.
India also suspended visa services for Canadians, though Canada has yet to do the same.
Though Canada’s allies have been mum on the extrajudicial assassination claims, countries like the United States have urged cooperation between the two countries as Canadian law enforcement investigates the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Intelligence from a Five Eyes ally suggests possible involvement of Indian agents in the killing.