Why Justin Trudeau's trip to India in 2018 turned out to be a diplomatic fiasco

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi, India Published: Dec 01, 2020, 10.15 PM(IST)

Trudeau with PM Modi on his India visit in 2018 Photograph:( PTI )

Story highlights

Trudeau’s time in India was criticised for its lack of official business, not to mention the excessive photo-ops and insensitive overuse of Indian clothing

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's eight-day expedition to India in 2018 was an absolute political disaster.

The trip started off on a disappointing note, as the Trudeau delegation was received at the airport by a minister of state, not even a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.

International and local observers speculated that Trudeau was being snubbed, given the cold shoulder, over unscrupulous ties with separatists and extremists.

After going to great lengths to convince Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh that his government did not associate with radicals, one such radical was part of his own entourage in India.

Hours before meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his journey hit a dead end when the Canadian high commissioner invited a Sikh extremist named Jaspal Atwal (who has been convicted of attempted murder and was previously affiliated with a terrorist group) to a dinner to honour Trudeau in Delhi.

Atwal was found guilty of trying to kill an Indian minister in 1986; he was also blamed for an assault on Ujjal Dosanjh, the former premier of British Columbia.

Also read: India slams Justin Trudeau's 'Ill-informed' comments on farmer protests

By the time Atwal’s invitation was rescinded — Trudeau called it “unfortunate” — Atwal had already posed for photographs with Trudeau’s wife, Sophie, in Mumbai, as well as with other members of his entourage.

The Trudeau government’s explanation was further refuted when more photos surfaced of Atwal with Trudeau himself, one at a 2015 Liberal Party campaign event in Vancouver, and another that appears to have been taken before Trudeau became the leader of the Liberal Party.

Atwal is a longtime Liberal supporter and activist, he’s a former donor to the party and a former Liberal board member for the electoral district in Surrey, British Columbia.

Atwal is a longtime Liberal supporter and activist, he’s a former donor to the party and a former Liberal board member for the electoral district in Surrey, British Columbia. Atwal’s ties to the Liberals run deep, and there is no excuse for Trudeau’s continued relationship with a convicted criminal and former member of a terrorist organisation.

Trudeau’s time in India was criticised for its lack of official business, not to mention the excessive photo-ops and insensitive overuse of Indian clothing. To add insult to injury for Canadians, his taxpayer funded tour looked more like another lavish family vacation — including his own celebrity chef flown in from Vancouver than a diplomatic bilateral meeting.

However, these criticisms pale in comparison to serious catastrophe of not only associating with a convicted terrorist assassin, but bringing him to India alongside his official delegation.

India's ties with Canada remain frozen in time and Trudeau's latest statements on the farmer protests are unlikely to make things better.

Read in App