Canada speaker skips G20 parliamentary meeting in Delhi amid diplomatic row

13 Oct 2023 09:14am
Pedestrians pass the G20 logo installed on a road in New Delhi, India. - Photo by AFP
Pedestrians pass the G20 logo installed on a road in New Delhi, India. - Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI - Canada has not sent Senate Speaker Raymonde Gagne to attend the G20 Parliamentary Speakers' Summit in New Delhi on Friday amid diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

"We invite all members for G20 events, in this case the P20. Participation is their decision and is subject to a number of factors. I think you should ask them," Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday in response to a question about Gagne's absence.

"I'll have to check whether anybody is actually attending from Canada, because I think the parliament speaker could not attend," he added.

A bitter row erupted between Ottawa and New Delhi last month after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of involvement in the murder of a vocal Sikh separatist activist, a Canadian citizen of Indian-origin who was declared a terrorist by the Indian authorities. India has asked Canada to withdraw dozens of its diplomats so that their numbers are similar to India's diplomatic presence in Canada.

"Let me stress that we remain committed to what we said, that is ensuring parity in our diplomatic presence. We remain engaged with Canadian authorities on the modalities of achieving that," Bagchi said.

According to media reports, the issue was discussed at an undisclosed meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Canadian counterpart Melanie Joly in the United States two weeks ago.

Bagchi declined to confirm or deny such a meeting.

"We have been in touch with the Canadians at various levels. Regarding any specific interaction, I don't have any particular information to share," he said.

The Indian ministry spokesman said the "core issue" between the two countries is "the space given by Canada to terrorists and criminal elements." Canada has vehemently asked India to cooperate in the investigation into the assassination of the Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was shot dead in June in Surrey, outside Vancouver.

India has dismissed the accusations as baseless, but the row refuses to die down.

In his phone conversations with Jordan's King Abdullah and United Arab Emirates President Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Sunday the Canadian prime minister brought up the "the situation between Canada and India." - BERNAMA