Canada’s Conservative Party, led by Pierre Poilievre, has openly supported Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Khalistani terrorist who was murdered in June. This comes despite Nijjar being wanted in India for several terror-related cases. Tim Uppal, a Conservative MP, defended Nijjar in a statement made in the Canadian Parliament. The Conservative Party’s willingness to pander to the Khalistani sentiment in Canada is evident, as Uppal used the respectful title “Bhai” before Nijjar’s name. This may be a strategic move to gain support from the Sikh community, as Sikhs can influence votes in constituencies where margins are thin.
Many would have expected Canada’s Conservative Party, the main opposition party led by Pierre Poilievre, to avoid defending Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Khalistani terrorist murdered in June, but now the party has openly supported him.
Though Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and now even the opposition Conservative Party believe that Nijjar was a peaceful activist, he was wanted in India in several cases of terror. Trudeau kicked up a storm by claiming there are “credible allegations” of India’s “potential link” to Nijjar’s murder at a gurdwara in Canada.
Tim Uppal, a Conservative MP and the Deputy Leader for Canada’s Official Opposition, has defended Nijjar in a statement he made in Canadian Parliament yesterday. “Let me begin by offering my sincere condolences to Bhai Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s family. I also did so in person with his son soon after his assassination – an assassination of a Canadian on Canadian soil in the parking lot of a gurdwara,” Uppal said in a departure from the statement made by Poilievre after Trudeau’s statement on India link.
While Poilievre’s statement too condoled Nijjar’s death, it offered a boilerplate condemnation of the event and asked for the truth to be brought out. Later he said, “The prime minister needs to come clean with all the facts. We need to know all the evidence possible so that Canadians can make judgments on that…The prime minister hasn’t provided any facts. He provided a statement and I want to emphasize that he didn’t tell me any more in private than he told Canadians in public, so we want to see more information.”
Uppal’s use of the respectful title “Bhai” before Nijjar’s name points at the Conservative Party’s willingness to pander to the Khalistani sentiment in Canada. Conservative Party is the main opposition while another major party NDP, led by Jagmeet SIngh, supports Trudeau’s minority Liberal Party government.
Why do Conservatives patronise Khalistanis?
Unlike on many other issues such as gender and sexual education in schools, inflation and the recent honouring of former Nazi soldier in Canada’s Parliament, Conservatives are not seen to be willing to confront Trudeau on Khalistani terror. They have failed to highlight that Nijjar was a criminal fugitive repsonsible for several acts of terror in India despite video and photographic evidence of Nijjar’s militant activities. India has for long been asking Canada to take action against Nijjar.
Though Conservatives usually do not compete for Khalistani votes, which is a preserve of Liberal Party and NDP, this time Conservative leader Poilievre is far ahead in popularity ratings than Trudeau and does not want to take a chance.
Sikhs constitutes a little more than 2% of Canada’s population but their number matters because they can be influenced to vote en bloc for a party which can make a big difference when margins are thin in a large number of constituencies. Since Khalistanis control most gurdwaras and thus the religious and socio-cultural affairs of the Sikh community, they can sway Sikh voters towards a party.
In a recent Ipsos poll conducted for Canadian news platform Global News, Poilievre has emerged as the preferred choice for Prime Minister among 40 percent of Canadian citizens. In contrast, Trudeau lags behind with only 31 percent support. The Conservatives could secure a majority government if an election were held today.
The hope of winning the election, which could happen well before the end of the Trudeau government’s tenure if Jagmeet’s NDP withdraws support, might have forced the Conservatives to not offend Khalistanis. That’s why Uppal spoke so respectfully of Nijjar in his statement in parliament.
When Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannu of Sikhs for Justice threatened Hindus of Indian origin and asked them to leave Canada a few days ago, Poilievre issued a weak statement supporting Canada’s Hindu community but without either naming Pannu or Khalistani extremism.
In contrast, David Eby, another opposition leader from a provincial-level party NDP and the current Premiere of the province of British Columbia where Nijjar was murdered, made stronger statements, confronting Trudeau on evidence of India link to Nijjar’s murder.
Eby said after meeting with Trudeau on Monday that he was not taken into the loop on Trudeau’s allegations against India and came to know about it only one hour before they came in the public domain. A few days ago, Eby embarrased Trudeau by saying at a press conference that the information provided to him by Trudeau-led federal government regarding India’s involvement in Nijjar’s murder was “an open source information” that was available on the internet.
Many in India tend to think that it is Trudeau who patronises and provides protection to Khalistanis in Canada, who organise acts of terror in India. But Conservative leaders refusing to call Nijjar a Khalistani terrorist or questioning how he came to become a Canadian citizen despite a criminal record shows that nurturing Khalistani elements is a deeply entrenched characteristic of Canadian politics across political parties.
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