Canada has expelled a senior Indian diplomat hours after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of being involved in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and prominent figure in Canada’s Sikh community was shot dead outside of a Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C. on June 18. His murder raised tensions between Indian communities in Canada and between Canada and India.
“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” said Trudeau in the House of Commons on Monday.
“In the strongest possible terms, I continue to urge the government of India to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter,” Trudeau continued. “Canada is a rule of law country. The protection of our citizens and defense of our sovereignty are fundamental.”
Trudeau said he raised the issue with Indian officials, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his trip to the G20 summit in New Delhi last week.
“Canada declared its deep concerns to the top intelligence and security officials of the Indian government last week at the G20, I brought them personally and directly to Prime Minister Modi,” said Trudeau.
Shortly after Trudeau’s remarks, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Canada had expelled a senior Indian diplomat.
“We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference,” Joly said. “Since this was brought to our attention, we’ve been guided by three principles. The first one is that we will seek the truth. The second one, is that we will protect Canadians at all times. Thirdly, we will protect Canada’s sovereignty. I’ve conveyed these principles to my Indian counterpart and I’ve also told him that we expect India’s full collaboration to make sure that we get to the bottom of this.”
Joly said the expulsion was a direct “consequence” of India’s conduct.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre responded to the allegation from Trudeau by offering condolences to Singh Nijjar’s family, calling it an “outrageous murder.”
“If these allegations are true they represent an outrageous affront to Canada’s sovereignty,” Poilievre said. “Our citizens must be safe from extrajudicial killings of all kinds, most of all from foreign governments. Canadians deserve to be protected on Canadian soil.”
Poilievre echoed the call for transparency and cooperation from India.
“We must know who performed the assassination and who was behind the assassination,” he said. “Conservatives will continue to work to get these answers. All Canadians now stand with diaspora communities of Indian origin. It is now in this time that the official opposition makes an appeal for calm. We are all Canadians. This is our country. We must be united for our home and for each other.”