New Delhi has given Canada until October 10 to to reduce its complement of diplomats in India by about 40 people, sources tell CBC News. The government of India is threatening to revoke the diplomatic immunity of additional staff who have not left the country if Canada fails to meet that deadline.
India ordering Canada to reduce diplomatic staff by about 40 people by Tuesday, sources say
As Canada-India bilateral relations spiral, the Canadian government relocated some lower-level diplomatic staff stationed outside of Delhi to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore over the last several weeks, multiple sources tell CBC News.
CBC can also confirm that India’s government has given Canada until Tuesday to reduce its diplomatic footprint at the High Commission in New Delhi by about 40 people. India’s government is threatening to revoke the diplomatic immunity of additional staff who are not gone by the Oct. 10 deadline, sources say.
Canada’s decision to relocate diplomatic staff stationed outside of Delhi is not directly related to the demand this week from India for Canada to reduce its diplomatic footprint.
The sources spoke to CBC News on the condition they not be named. This report confirms information reported by the Financial Times and CTV News earlier this week.
Roland Paris, director of the University of Ottawa’s school of public and international relations and a former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, says the chances of India actually revoking diplomatic immunity to Canadian staff are low because doing so would undermine its reputation in the international community.
“India wants to strengthen its relations with lots of parts of the world, including with the Western countries that are now seeking to strengthen their relations with India for economic and strategic reasons,” Paris told CBC’s Power & Politics.
“India does not want to be seen as a nation that flouts rules wantonly.”
Canada-India relations soured last month after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada’s national security apparatus has reason to believe “agents of the Indian government” were involved in the fatal shooting of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
India has denied any role in Nijjar’s killing and has called Trudeau’s accusation “absurd” and “unsubstantiated.”
Nijjar, who was vocal advocate for an independent Sikh homeland in northern India to be called Khalistan, was shot dead in June outside of a gurdwara in Surrey, B.C.
Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the man India is accused of killing?
Featured VideoHardeep Singh Nijjar was a pro-Khalistan activist and the president of a Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C. His day job was working as a plumber. For years, the Indian government called him a terrorist — a claim Nijjar repeatedly denied. So, who was Nijjar, and why did India think he was such a danger?
The government of India branded Nijjar a terrorist in 2020 and accused him of leading a militant separatist group, an accusation his supporters deny.
Global Affairs Canada says that “due to security and operational considerations,” the department is unable to confirm details concerning Canada’s move to relocate some diplomatic staff.
Earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said it’s important for Canada to have a “strong diplomatic footprint in India” during this diplomatic crisis.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brennan MacDonald is a producer for CBC’s national television program Power & Politics.