The Yukon Party official Opposition is questioning whether Premier Ranj Pillai will cut short his trade trip amid Canada’s tense diplomatic situation with India.
The cabinet office, in turn, points out the trip was slated to end Thursday (India Standard Time) anyway.
“Monday’s shocking revelation from the prime minister of Canada about the alleged involvement of the Indian government in the killing of a Canadian Sikh leader raises some serious questions about Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai’s ongoing trip to India,” the Yukon Party said Tuesday morning.
“Following the expulsion of at least one Indian diplomat from Canada and reciprocal expulsion of a Canadian diplomat from India, the relationship between India and Canada has reached a new low.
“Despite the prime minister’s announcement and these diplomatic expulsions, Premier Pillai posted photos of meetings with government officials from his trade mission through India,” said Opposition Leader Currie Dixon.
“The premier should, at the very least, be consulting with the Government of Canada about his ongoing participation in this trade mission.
“Having a Canadian premier meeting with a top minister in the Modi government on the same day that the prime minister of Canada accused the Indian government of involvement in the assassination of a Canadian citizen clearly seems inappropriate.”
The Yukon Party believes the territorial government should disclose whether it sought advice from Ottawa before embarking on the trip.
“Premier Pillai must share what, if any, advice was provided,” the Yukon Party said.
“It has been widely reported that Prime Minister Trudeau raised concerns about June’s killing with Prime Minister Modi during the G20 summit in Delhi on September 9-10.
“This means the Canadian government must have had intelligence before that.
“Premier Pillai’s meetings abroad began on September 11. This means that either the premier failed to ask Ottawa for its advice, or the federal government failed to inform the premier that a major diplomatic incident would be unfolding.”
Canadians and Yukoners, Dixon added, “must be safe from interference, intimidation, and violence from foreign governments.
“If the allegations made by Prime Minister Trudeau are true, those actions represent an egregious affront to Canadian sovereignty and must be condemned in the strongest possible way.”
Cabinet communications said later Tuesday the trade mission “has been a successful, engaging endeavour, creating valuable business connections and opportunities for the Yukon’s mining and tourism sectors, while also contributing to advancements in health care recruitment across the territory.”
The delegates, who include government officials and Yukon business representatives, are now departing, as originally planned.
“Delegates have been in constant communication with the Canadian Embassy in India throughout the trip and we have been in contact with the Prime Minister’s Office,” the cabinet communications statement said.
“It is interesting to see the leader of the Yukon Party express opposition to innovative work underway to address the health care human resources shortage and recruitment efforts. Just this summer, the Yukon Party released a news release calling for creative solutions to address the challenges in health care delivery.”
Dixon, the statement added, “once again continues to share misguided information and dangerous innuendos, something the Yukon Party is well-known for under his leadership.”
The NDP, meanwhile, called on Pillai not to meet with Indian government officials during his trip.
“Any such meeting would be inappropriate in light of credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June,” said NDP Leader Kate White.
“We need to know if the Indian government had anything to do with Mr. Singh Nijjar’s murder before the premier rubs shoulders with anyone associated with the Indian government.
“The Yukon NDP condemns any potential involvement of the government of India in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
“Everyone deserve to be safe on Canadian soil. These allegations are serious,” White added.