Canada recently revealed intelligence potentially connecting Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader. This revelation, which might typically trigger outrage among democratic allies, has been met with relative silence this time, largely due to India’s growing importance in Western efforts to counterbalance China.
India is now courted by the United States and other Western nations as a strategic partner to counter China’s influence, making Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s rare accusation particularly awkward for Western countries.
Stephanie Carvin, an international relations professor at Ottawa’s Carleton University, commented on this situation, stating, “India is important in Western calculations for balancing China, and Canada is not. This really does put Canada offside among all other Western countries.”
Trudeau announced in June that Canada is actively investigating credible allegations of Indian involvement in the murder of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar. While Ottawa had been discussing the matter with allies like the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance (including the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand), the response has been relatively muted.
Britain, caught between supporting Canada and maintaining good relations with India, has refrained from publicly criticizing India and intends to continue bilateral trade talks. White House national security adviser John Kirby expressed concern but encouraged Indian cooperation in the investigation.
The subdued response is in stark contrast to the international uproar following the poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in 2018, where many countries expelled Russian diplomats.
With allies hesitant to condemn India without concrete evidence, Canada’s options appear limited for now. The situation highlights the delicate diplomatic balance between addressing human rights concerns and advancing strategic interests in a complex global landscape.