Canada on Tuesday told the United Nations General Assembly that the rules of state-to-state relations “cannot be bent for political expediency”.
The statement came over a week after the country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that Indian agents may have been behind the killing of a Sikh separatist leader on Canadian soil.
Canada’s United Nations Ambassador Robert Rae on Tuesday told the United Nations that there was a need to uphold the values of free and democratic societies. “We cannot bend the rules of state-to-state relations for political expediency,” Rae said. “Because we’ve seen and continue to see the extent to which democracies are under threat through various means of foreign interference”.
The ambassador added: “But the truth is if we don’t adhere to the rules that we’ve agreed to, the very fabric of our open and of our free societies may start to tear.”
Earlier, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had urged the United Nations’ member states not to allow “political convenience” to determine responses to terrorism, extremism and violence.
A diplomatic crisis erupted between India and Canada last week after Trudeau told his country’s parliament that its intelligence agencies were actively pursuing “credible allegations” tying Indian agents to the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar was the chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force and was shot dead in the parking lot of a gurdwara in Surrey near Vancouver on June 18. The Khalistan Tiger Force has been designated a terrorist outfit in India.
India has called Trudeau’s allegations “absurd” and indefinitely suspended visa services in Canada last week citing security threats to its officials. New Delhi also said that Canada needed to look into its growing reputation as a “safe haven” to terrorists, extremists and those involved in organised crime.
On September 23, United States Ambassador to Canada David Cohen had confirmed that information shared by members of an intelligence-sharing alliance had led Trudeau to make his claims about possible Indian involvement in Nijjar’s killing.
“There was shared intelligence among ‘Five Eyes’ partners that helped lead Canada to [make] the statements that the prime minister made,” Cohen told CTV News in an interview.