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Canada

Saskatchewan Premier Moe in India amid country’s diplomatic tensions with Ottawa

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is in India to promote trade despite heightened tensions between Canada and the overseas country.

Moe says he wants to maintain and expand markets that thousands of Saskatchewan jobs rely upon.

Tensions hit a boiling point last year, after India was accused of being involved in the killing of a Sikh community leader in British Columbia and meddling in Canada’s affairs. 

The accusations led to India forcing most of Canada’s diplomats to be sent home.

Saskatchewan Opposition NDP trade critic Aleana Young says she hopes Moe addresses the killing in Canada, should that topic come up.

She says India is an important trading partner for Saskatchewan and any murder of a Canadian citizen should concern all levels of government. 

“Being against the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is something I would hope all Canadians could be unified behind, including this premier,” Young said Tuesday.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead in June outside his gurdwara in Surrey, B.C., where congregants decried it as a politically motivated attack.

In September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadian intelligence agencies were “pursuing credible allegations of a potential link” between India’s government and Nijjar’s death. American officials later alleged other assassinations were being considered in Canada.

The independent inquiry into foreign interference of Canadian elections also asked Ottawa to share information about possible meddling by India.

New Delhi rejected that it’s behind such acts and repeated its long-standing view that Canada allows Sikh separatists to intervene in its affairs.

Moe did not address Nijjar’s death or issues of foreign interference in his statement about the weeklong trip. 

“Saskatchewan has been working alongside India for many years and I’m proud of the relationships we’ve built in that time,” Moe said. 

The federal government did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the trip. In September, Ottawa postponed a trade mission to India. 

The NDP compiled data that shows Saskatchewan has spent more than $230,000 on travel to India since 2018, with two trips taking place last year.

Young said Moe should not be taking the trip right now, arguing the province should be dealing with mounting health-care and education issues at home. 

Canada’s total exports to India were valued at $5 billion last year, with Saskatchewan responsible for about one-quarter of that.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2024.

Jeremy Simes, The Canadian Press


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