Published: Sat, February 17, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Justin Trudeau to meet PM Modi on February 23, defence on agenda

Justin Trudeau to meet PM Modi on February 23, defence on agenda

Jasdev Singh Rai, director of the Sikh Human Rights Forum, who was a key interlocutor in talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in London in November 2015, is one of those recently refused the electronic travel authorisation (ETA) to travel to Canada.

He is also scheduled to meet with the prime minister and president in Delhi, but will not meet with an Indian politician who has publicly accused members of his cabinet of being connected to the Sikh separatist movement.

The issue of revival of Sikh radicalism in Canada and presence of supporters of Khalistan movement in Trudeau cabinet have cast a shadow on Indo-Canadian partnership, the growing economic partnership including rising investments in India notwithstanding.

The Canadian Prime Minister is starting his visit from Sunday with a visit to the famous Taj Mahal, following which he will be travelling to Ahmedabad to visit the Sabarmati Ashram the next day. Canadian officials are giving no explanation for the decision not to meet him.

The Hindustan Times, the largest English daily newspaper in India, reported Singh was to accompany Trudeau to the temple and a nearby museum. Only last week, Capt Amarinder had stated that he was looking forward to meeting the Canadian Prime Minister.

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The Canadian government in its official statement hoped that the upcoming visit will help "create good middle-class jobs for Canadians and Indians alike". Nonetheless several gurdwaras in Canada have barred Indian officials from entering the premises.

Trade between Canada and India has doubled in the last 10 years to about $8 billion in 2016.

"The one big missing piece is that we will not see the signing of a comprehensive economic and trade agreement that would have been a crowning achievement for this visit, which has been in the works since 2010", said Dehejia, an associate professor of economics and philosophy at Carleton University in Ottawa. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will meet the delegation in India.

More than a dozen Indian Canadian MPs are expected to join Trudeau in India for some or all of the seven-day trip.

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