The federal government lacks a backbone on Chinese interference — we've known this for years — but now, we can add India to the list of countries with no regard for Canadian sovereignty.
According to a confidential Canadian foreign interference review, Ottawa blocked intelligence officials in 2017 from shutting down a growing Indian intelligence network — owing to fears it would have repercussions for the Canadian delegates heading to India the following year.
The secretive June 2019 report, Canadian Eyes Only, claimed "political sensitivity" for blocking the operation that would have ended Indian surveillance of the Sikh community on Canadian soil.
As a result, the Indian diplomat targeted by CSIS continued to operate their networks out of Vancouver "unabated," as first reported by The Bureau.
According to the publication, the top secret document says the feds failed to act on CSIS warnings that Chinese and Indian diplomats intimidated diaspora communities.
The 2019 report says that around 2016, CSIS discovered "an increase in the volume" of clandestine intelligence activity by Indian agents in Canada. They specifically targeted the Indian diaspora and government institutions.
It alleged intelligence liaison Parag Jain and Indian Consul Amar Jit Singh orchestrated "undeclared intelligence activities."
Singh and Jain supposedly "facilitated visas for Indo-Canadian politicians and their friends" while manipulating "India's 'black list' of people banned from travelling to India."
On Singh specifically, the report claims he operated out of the Vancouver Consulate to "infiltrate and monitor" the Sikh diaspora and influence pro-India candidates among the community.
According to CSIS, he supposedly used a community proxy to donate "cash to a federal party candidate."
These allegations follow Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's scathing accusation on Monday that India may have orchestrated a targeted hit on a prominent Sikh leader with ties to the Khalistan separatist movement, who is suspected of terrorism by New Delhi.
"Over the past number of weeks, Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar," he said.
Nijjar died on June 18 in Surrey after being fatally shot as he left his gurdwara.
The RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team says two suspects are believed to have shot the gurdwara president before fleeing to a getaway vehicle driven by a third suspect. The suspects remain at large.
"Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty," reiterated Trudeau.
In September 2016, CSIS planned to operationalize "threat reduction" powers from the previous Conservative government to target India's clandestine cells in Canada.
CSIS expected to disrupt Jain and Singh's alleged networks to prevent further foreign interference and intimidation as part of the Threat Reduction Measure.
However, Global Affairs and Public Safety Canada did not heed the warnings because trade with India and China took precedence over national security.
"In view of the significant political sensitivity, the Privy Council Office advised CSIS to be mindful of this context and take a limited approach to briefings and interviews," said the report, referencing a later briefing note for Trudeau.
While intelligence officials met with members of Jain's network, they did not engage elected officials as intended.
Concerning Singh, the agency did not target the diplomat or his network in contravention of the threat reduction plan.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government have long claimed Canada's vast Sikh diaspora misled the federal government on the Nijjar allegations against their country.
They suggested Canada is a hotbed for the Khalistan separatist movement and that Trudeau is trying to court the Sikh vote to bolster his re-election bid in 2025.
In response, Modi questioned whether Indian diplomats could safely visit the country moving forward.
In February 2018, Jaspal Atwal, a convicted ex-member of a controversial Sikh separatist group, attempted to murder Indian cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu on Vancouver Island in 1986.
Trudeau faced a media firestorm after a cabinet minister invited Atwal to dine with the prime minister at a formal event hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner in Delhi. They later rescinded the invite.
"They are promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises and threatening the Indian community in Canada and their places of worship," said the Indian government in a statement following the recent G20 summit.