New Delhi, December 6: Ignoring India’s strong protest against his remarks about the ongoing farmers’ stir here, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau again backed the agitators and said his country will continue to “stand up for peaceful protests and human rights.”
His reiteration came hours after his envoy to New Delhi Nadir Patel was summoned on Friday and served a demarche. India said earlier remarks by the Canadian Prime Minister and some of his Ministers could impact the ties between the two countries.
Seen as a rebuff to him in the current backdrop, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has pulled out of a Canadian-led global meeting on corona pandemic next week, sources said here on Saturday.
India informed Canada that Jaishankar will not attend the Canada headed Covid-19 foreign Ministers grouping meeting. He had taken part in the 11th Ministerial Coordination Group on Covid-19 in November which was the first time India officially took part in the meet.
A release from Canadian Foreign Ministry that time said, “Minister Champagne (Canadian Foreign Minister) welcomed Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar of India to the group, noting the recent developments in India and emphasising the critical role India plays in addressing global Covid-19 vaccine and pharmaceutical needs.”
Other members of the grouping include Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Singapore and the UK. The grouping will meet to formulate strategies to fight Covid.
Sources said New Delhi informed Ottawa that Jaishankar will not attend the meeting that is to take place on December 7 due to “scheduling issues”.
They said the Canadian Government was duly informed that the External Affairs Minister will not take part in the meeting organised by his Canadian counterpart.
In the last meeting held virtually, Jaishankar had tweeted, “Pleased to participate in the Group of Foreign Ministers Meeting to exchange experiences on COVID-related challenges. Thank FM @FP_Champagne of Canada for convening the meeting.”No
Meanwhile, Trudeau struck his guns and said in Ottawa Canada will continue to “stand up for peaceful protests and human rights”. He welcomed the ongoing talks between farmers and the Indian Government, and efforts at “de-escalation”.
This reiteration came when asked about India’s caution on Friday to his envoy that his remarks will impact the ties between the two countries.
In its demarche to the Canadian High Commissioner here on Friday, India also said the comments by the Canadian Prime Minister, some Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament on issues relating to Indian farmers “constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs”.
This strong statement came after Trudeau some days back said, “We’re all very worried about family and friends. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we’ve reached out through multiple means directly to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns,” he said during the virtual celebration with the Sikh community.
The External Affairs Ministry said these comments have encouraged gatherings of “extremist activities” in front of our High Commission and Consulates in Canada that raise issues of safety and security.”We expect the Canadian Government to ensure the fullest security of Indian diplomatic personnel and its political leaders to refrain from pronouncements that legitimise extremist activism,” the statement added.
On Tuesday too, a day after Trudeau’s statement, India had denounced the Canadian Prime Minister’s remarks on the farmers’ agitation as “ill-informed” and “unwarranted”. “Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country,” the ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said.
On Monday, speaking at an event to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, Trudeau had spoken in support of farmers in India and weighed in on the right to peaceful protest. “Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protest,” said the Canadian Prime Minister.
Trudeau’s remarks were echoed by other Canadian leaders, including Conservative party leader Erin O’Toole, who called the right to peacefully protest “fundamental” to democracy. Trudeau was the first world leader to comment on the farmers’ stir.
The Indian demarche on Friday was tougher as compared to Tuesday’s response. On that day, New Delhi refrained from naming the Canadian Prime Minister.
Taking exception to his remarks, Srivastava on Tuesday had said the comments were “ill-informed” and “unwarranted”. The spokesperson also said, “We have seen some ill-informed comments by Canadian leaders relating to farmers in India. Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country. It is also best that diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes.” (Courtesy: PNS)