Justin Trudeau could not have sounded more political. With an eye on his 800 thousand-strong Sikh vote bank, the Canadian prime minister chose to play pernicious politics on September 18th. Blinded by narrow poll considerations, the calfish Mr Trudeau charged India with the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Vancouver in British Columbia in June. Mr Nijjar was a Sikh, a suspected Khalistan separatist-terrorist.

Declaring in a Cavalier Fashion

The accusation was nothing less than impudent. Basically because a G20 democracy was blaming another similar nation without concrete evidence. So reckless was Mr Trudeau that the needless fire he has lit up threatens to reach the shores of the United States and the United Kingdom. These two powers could soon see themselves caught in the crossfire of political charges and counter-charges flying between reckless Canada and hard-headed India.

Despite lack of solid proof, Mr Trudeau went on to declare in a cavalier fashion that Canada’s intelligence had proof of India’s hand in Mr Nijjar’s killing. Even as Mr Trudeau assured the Canadian parliament that he would pursue efforts to make India join the probe, he was not taking his eyes off the Sikh vote bank. Projecting himself as a nationalist, he slammed the killing of Mr Nijjar, a Canadian citizen in Canada, by a foreign nation. https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/09/19/canada-india-trudeau- modi-hardeep-singh-nijjar-assassination-sikh-leader/

Video Courtesy: YouTube/WION

Mr Modi is Smelling an Opportunity

The cost of doing politics over Mr Nijjar’s killing and the diplomatic face-offs that followed will be huge for Canada and India. The puerile tit for tat led to Canada expelling the head of India’s foreign intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing in Canada and India returning the favour by counter-expulsion of the Canadian diplomat stationed in India. The nasty spat is taking the relations between Canada and India to a frighteningly new nadir.

Relations between Canada and India has been under strain in recent years. India has been blaming Canada for its politics of backing Canada-based Khalistani terrorists, who are Sikhs demanding a separate nation for the community. As India’s right-wing Hindu nationalists slam Mr Trudeau for his vote-bank politics of backing the separatists, prime minister Mr Modi is smelling an opportunity here to shore up further support for his foreign policies. https://www.bostonherald.com/2023/09/18/india-expels- canadian-diplomat-escalating-tensions-after-trudeau-accuses- india-in-sikhs-killing/

Continuance Will be in Danger

Yet, the spat between Canada and India may cost both hugely. Strained diplomatic ties apart, the row will hit the economies of the two. Canada’s trade talks with India are already in pause. If the lull continues, it will be doubtful whether India will remain Canada’s tenth-largest trading partner. Meanwhile, Canadian funds investing in India are sure to exercise ample caution now in putting their money in Indian markets.

This apart, Canada has benefitted a lot from hardworking Indian immigrants. They make up four per cent of the population. Potentially, their personal safety and continuance in Canada will be in danger. This will affect the Canadian economy. For India, forex remittances to India will be impaired. Economic costs apart, if tensions escalate further, between India and Canada, it is sure to blow up into a major global issue straining their relations more. https://www.international.gc.ca/country-pays/india- inde/relations.aspx?lang=eng

A Biased Probe will Embarrass

As a pointer, Canada has already sounded out friends United States and the United Kingdom for support in Mr Nijjar’s murder probe. As both these brawny powers too have sizeable Indian immigrant population, they lending support to what India thinks would not be an impartial probe will move the issue of Sikhs in Canada to the larger global stage. Moreover, such a biased probe will embarrass both president Joe Biden and prime minister Rishi Sunak, particularly when both of them are mired in local problems.

Geopolitically too, the United States and the United Kingdom will find backing Mr Trudeau is a dicey affair. Particularly because supporting Mr Trudeau’s India-slamming for Mr Nijjar’s killing would enfeeble their efforts to check China’s expansionary efforts in Asia. Not backing anyone, either Canada or India, too is potentially pernicious to their global standing as India is a growing global power, geopolitically and economically. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-09- 19/trudeau-s-murder-claim-threatens-to-upend-us-courtship-of- india

Terror-Supporting Nations Think Twice

However, Canada fears Indian intelligence agencies are turning more dreadful. Indian agencies too are keen to emulate the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation and the Mossad of Israel. This makes India’s Research and Analysis Wing vastly ambitious. As India steps up on its Khalistani intelligence worldwide, terror-sheltering nations are now thinking twice on their patronage and support to terrorists. https://www.eurasiantimes.com/indian-spy-agency-raw-is-the- new-mossad-ex-officials-talk/

The Poliphoon’s Last Word

The global cost for Mr Trudeau for backing Sikh separatists will be prohibitive. The economic cost for India too for slamming Canada and earning its displeasure cannot be overlooked in an inter-dependent global setting. Ignoring a large vote bank of Sikhs, a majority among the 1.4 million Indian immigrants in Canada, is fraught with electoral risks for Mr Trudeau. This is a Catch-22 peril all Canadian politicians would like to avoid.