'Canadians surprised Trudeau's reception hasn't been welcoming'

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 22, 2018, 08.22 AM(IST)

File photo: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Canadian journalist Candice Malcolm told WION Thursday that "Canadians are surprised that Trudeau's reception (in India) hasn't been very welcoming."  

She added that "Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not meet Trudeau at the airport and that it looks like the trip is more like a family vacation for Trudeau as opposed to official business." 

The story that the Indian government might be "snubbing" Trudeau has been picked up by both the Indian and international media.

Trudeau after all tends to generate a large amount of buzz wherever he goes but that hasn't been the case here in India.

The problem is that the Canadian prime minister has four Sikh MPs in his cabinet, some of whom India says have links to Khalistani terrorists. And Trudeau has in the past said that they are entitled to support the idea of a free Khalistan. 

Things got worse on Thursday when it was discovered that a convicted Khalistani terrorist had been invited to a dinner -- to be held Thursday night -- hosted by the Canadian high commissioner to Delhi. 

Canadian officials ran to do some damage control; the invite was rescinded and the Canadian PMO said Jaspal Atwal should never have been invited

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"This story that an extreme, radical and convicted criminal being invited as part of Trudeau's entourage is very disturbing, very upsetting for Canadians. The judgement of our PM is being called into question as to why he would invite such an individual," Malcom told WION's Ramesh Ramachandran. 

"I don't think it's necessarily expected," Malcom said when she was asked about the alleged "cold shoulder" given to Trudeau. (The Indian government has refuted the allegation, saying it is not possible for the prime minister to accompany every visiting head of state.)  

"When our PM goes somewhere, it's expected that people get excited. But in India, his political activities in Canada are catching up with him and it's totally reasonable for the Indian government to have issues with the way that Trudeau is acting by having partisan political events with his Liberal Party that include Khalistani radicals and separatists that are causing problems in India," Malcolm added. 

Malcolm was asked why Trudeau might be reluctant to call out the Khalistani leaders on their separatism. 

"Canadians can express their own political views but as the PM, Trudeau has a higher responsibility and it's irresponsible for him to be pandering and seemingly associating with extremists and terrorists by going to events where he is pictured with so-called murderers or extremists and terrorists. This is very divisive and our PM should have better judgement and should stay away from those types of events," she answered. 

She also offered an answer as to why that might be the case, saying: "Justin Trudeau has a large Sikh constituency in Canada. He relies on Sikh votes, especially in Toronto and Vancouver. Most Sikhs in Canada are not extremists, not terrorists. They don't believe in this idea of an independent Khalistan but some members do. And Trudeau doen's seem to have the right judgement in drawing that distinction. And it's not right for Canadians to get involved in other countries' internal politics. Canadians wouldn't like world leaders, say PM Modi, spending time and supporting Quebec separatists in our country. So we should have that respect for India and Trudeau and the Liberal Party should stay away from extremists like the Khalistani groups.