Will not say that India is not cooperating: Canada PM Trudeau's aide on Hardeep Singh Nijjar murder probe
Canada has been pressing India to collaborate on the Nijjar murder investigation, and insights from the national security adviser suggest progress. The strained relationship has impacted discussions on a free-trade deal and Canada's Indo-Pacific plan
A top Canadian official revealed that India and Canada are making strides in improving bilateral ties after tensions escalated over the murder of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia. Diplomatic relations were strained when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested last year that Indian agents could be linked to Nijjar's June 2023 murder, prompting denials from India regarding any government involvement.
Speaking to Canadian broadcaster CTV, Jody Thomas, Trudeau's national security adviser, said, "I wouldn't describe them (the Indians) as not cooperating. I think we've made advancements in that relationship." The interview excerpt was published on Friday, with the full interview scheduled to air on Sunday.
Canada has been urging India to collaborate in the investigation into Nijjar's killing. In November, US authorities disclosed thwarting a plot to kill a Khalistani terrorist in the United States, supporting Canada's position. Thomas emphasized that the information revealed by the Americans has led to closer collaboration with India in resolving the issue.
The strained relationship has had repercussions, delaying discussions on a free-trade deal and jeopardizing Canada's ambitions to enhance its influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Cooperation with New Delhi is deemed crucial in countering an increasingly assertive China in the region. Thomas acknowledged the importance of a healthy relationship with India for Canada's functioning in the Indo-Pacific and expressed optimism about working towards that goal.
The acrimony between the two nations also led to Canada withdrawing 41 diplomats from India, following New Delhi's request in September to reduce its diplomatic presence after Trudeau's remarks. As approximately 5% of Canada's population has Indian heritage, restoring a positive relationship with India remains a priority for Canada on multiple fronts, including trade, diplomacy, and regional influence.