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Rumors bought by circles in Canada led to worsening ties, both sides now seek solutions, says Indian envoy
India-Canada ties should not be a prisoner of unfounded rumours, says Indian envoy. Photo by Suman Das / IBNS

Rumors bought by circles in Canada led to worsening ties, both sides now seek solutions, says Indian envoy

| @indiablooms | 01 Mar 2024, 09:49 am

Toronto/IBNS: India’s High Commissioner to Canada Sanjay Kumar Verma has said while the relationship between Canada and India is too large to fall victim to rumours and efforts are now on to seek an agreeable path, sadly in various circles in this country the disinformation was bought, leading to the worsening bilateral ties between the two nations last year.

"Unfortunately last year we saw anti-India activities and incidents in Canada causing a very negative impact on bilateral relations. Though it was all rumors, unfortunately those rumors were bought into by various circles in this country and those rumor-mongering deteriorated our relations," Verma told a press conference in Toronto recently.

He, however, added that both sides are now trying to seek solutions and given the sensitivity of the issues, they are trying to find an agreeable path for the future.

"We have seen that one of the rumors has fallen flat. The same thing I would expect to happen in other investigations where the name of India is drawn in without any linkages or evidence.. Once that happens we will have a better understanding," he said.

"Our relationship is too large. Therefore solutions have to be found," he said.

"You name a sector and we are tied together- be it education or immigration or science or technology or agriculture. So just one element of disagreement should not allow the bilateral relation to fall flat," he said, adding that "in democracy sovereign countries do go their own way sometimes."

India and Canada last year engaged in a bitter diplomatic spat over the support to Khalistan issue in Canada and the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia, which the Justin Trudeau government blamed on Indian agents but did not share any evidence to back up the allegation.

On allegations of India meddling in the Canadian election process by Sikh organisations, the diplomat said it is something he has seen in the media but no direct information was shared with him on this. He, however, questioned the standing given to anti-India diaspora organisations with no credibility by the Canada government.

"India was G-20 president last year and many events took place on G-20 platforms and on the sidelines. Ministers from Canada had sideline meetings. Though they travelled for G-20, they discussed a gamut of issues and had bilateral outputs. From clean energy, education to migration, there were fruitful discussions," Verma said.

"This time G-20 was organised in various cities of india. They (Canadian ministers) could see those parts of India and understand people beyond Delhi," he said.

Verma said Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishakar met a number of times and had good frank discussions.

"Through these discussions new perspectives were developed. We tried to find a convergence. Canada's Minister of International Trade Mary Ng met her Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal and were coming very close on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)," he said. 

Verma said the  role of leaders is to sit together and find convergence. "There are issues difficult to reconcile, but that does not mean other parts of the relationship will fall flat," he said, adding that one should be more circumspect about rumours they see or hear.

"India's policy is not to destabilize another country," Verma said. 

He said despite damage in bilateral ties last year by the rumour mills, trade and investments was not too bad. He said cooperation among start-ups was a very positive sign.

He said 300,000 Indian students were in Canada last year, half in various colleges studying non-degree courses, and half in universities at all three levels- undergrad, grad and research.

"I do not expect that to come down," he said.

"Earlier students had been the largest source of immigration from India to Canada but now  professionals are increasing immensely. Immigration patterns seem to be changing, something that used to happen in the 1970s," he said.

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