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Toronto, Sep 23: The recent strain in Canada-India relations stemming from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations against India regarding the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar is being compared to a historic decision taken by his father Pierre Trudeau. Pierre Trudeau, during his tenure as Prime Minister, had refused to extradite Air India bombing mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar to India.
The Khalistani movement had a limited presence in Canada during the 1970s but gained momentum during Pierre Trudeau’s time as Prime Minister. Parmar had fled to Canada after killing four policemen in India. Despite then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s rapport with Pierre Trudeau during her visit to Canada in June 1973, Pierre Trudeau rejected her request to extradite Parmar to India in 1982. His argument was criticized as “India was insufficiently respectful of the Queen.”
Tragically, just a year after Pierre Trudeau left office, Parmar carried out the bombing of Air India Kanishka Flight 182 in June 1985, resulting in the loss of all 329 people on board.
Some critics argue that if Pierre Trudeau had honored Indira Gandhi’s request for Parmar’s extradition, the Air India Kanishka bombing and the incident that followed could have been avoided. They see parallels in the approach of Justin Trudeau, who has expressed sympathy for Khalistani terrorists in Canada today.
However, there are concerns that the current crisis has the potential to seriously damage Canada-India relations, which have expanded significantly in recent years. The scale of trade and people-to-people ties between the two countries is large, with approximately two million Indian Canadians living in Canada. Last year, trade between the two countries reached $12 billion. The ongoing negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) are also in danger. Recalling the challenges in reviving trade relations after Canada imposed sanctions following India’s nuclear tests in 1998, some individuals stress the importance of keeping business separate from politics. By 2022, Canada was ranked as India’s tenth largest trading partner, highlighting the importance of these diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries.