A Komagata Maru apology, an NDP alliance: Why Justin Trudeau might not condemn Khalistan extremism

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (AP)

PM Trudeau‘s handling of the killing of Khalistan extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar seems to indicate a subtle dissociation from a right-wing leader in order to propel his static year-over-year at 31 per cent popularity as best choice for Prime Minister candidate. 

The need to move away, rather severe ties with right wing ideologies seems like an opportune moment for an unfazed PM Trudeau

Notably, Canada houses the second highest Sikh Population in the world, after India. Currently, Canada has a Sikh population of more than 770,000, or about 2% of its total population. Discontent has long simmered between Canada and India over Sikh separatism, a movement that has had a bloody history.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s ally is NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is a Khalistan sympathiser. According to the recent poll, Singh’s popularity has slipped four points since September 2022, with 22 per cent of respondents saying he’s the best choice to lead the government.

Currently, the minority Liberals have a supply and confidence agreement with the NDP. That party has agreed to support the government on confidence matters until the next scheduled election in fall 2025.

In exchange, the Liberals agreed to advance key NDP priorities like dentalcare and pharmacare, with legislation expected on the latter by the end of the year.

However, 53 per cent of respondents say it’s time for the NDP to stop supporting the Liberals and trigger an election. The remainder believe the NDP should continue supporting the government and not force an election, Global News reported citing the Ipsos poll.

Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s polling momentum continues to chug along with 40 per cent of Canadians saying he’s the best choice to be prime minister, according to a new Ipsos poll done exclusively for Global News.

While Poilievre‘s popularity had the potential to be downtrodden as the opposition who only opposes, as opposed to bringing forth a policy proposal of his own, Trudeau’s popularity instead took the hit, hinting at the fact that his attempt to distance himself from a right wing leader might have backfired on him. 

Regionally, Poilievre’s favourables top the list in every province and region except for Quebec. The territories were not included in this poll, Global News reported.

The poll shows Poilievre has pulled ahead as preferred PM in Ontario at 42 per cent, compared to Trudeau’s 38%.

Notably, on the ongoing diplomatic stand-off between India and Canada triggered by Justin Trudeau’s allegations of India’s involvement in the killing of the Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Poilievre had stated that the Canadian PM should come out “clean with all the facts”.

Further, Trudeau in the initial days of his career as the Prime Minister of Canada maintained an apologetic stance for the followers of Sikh religion. He had in 2016, apologised for the incident of Komagata Maru

The Komagata Maru incident saw a group of people from British India attempting to immigrate to Canada in April 1914, but most were denied entry and forced to return to Budge Budge, Calcutta (present-day Kolkata). 

There, the Indian Imperial Police attempted to arrest the group leaders. A riot ensued, and they were fired upon by the police, resulting in the deaths of 22 people.

The passengers on board included 337 Sikhs, 27 Muslims and 12 Hindus, all Punjabis and British subjects. Of these 376 passengers, 24 were admitted to Canada, but the other 352 were not allowed to disembark in Canada, and the ship was forced to leave Canadian waters.

On 18 May, 2016, PM Trudeau issued an apology on behalf of the Canadian government which made international news. 

Trudeau, ahead of the 2025 Canadian elections faces several questions and dissatisfied citizen over rising cost of living, access to housing and inflation.

Therefore it certainly, brings into question if an apology, an alliance later, if PM Trudeau will choose to vehemently condemn the Khalistani extremism in his country, or will he maintain his stance to ‘defend freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and freedom of peaceful protest and it is extremely important to us.. at the same time we are always there to prevent violence and to push back against hatred’. 





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Updated: 23 Sep 2023, 10:05 AM IST

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