Advertisement

As diplomats leave India, Canada halts in-person services at its consulates

Click to play video: 'Trudeau says India has violated international law, Canada halts in-person services at consulates'
Trudeau says India has violated international law, Canada halts in-person services at consulates
WATCH: Trudeau says India has violated international law, Canada halts in-person services at consulates – Oct 20, 2023

Ottawa has suspended in-person services at its consulates in India after the federal government pulled 41 diplomats out of the country.

The halt comes as tensions between India and Canada continue to sour after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that Canadian intelligence services had “credible evidence” that agents of the Indian government may have been involved in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The Canadian-Sikh advocate was gunned down outside his gurdwara in Surrey, B.C., in June.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau says India’s decision to pull 41 Canadian diplomats out of country should ‘concern everyone’'
Trudeau says India’s decision to pull 41 Canadian diplomats out of country should ‘concern everyone’

“The Consulates General of Canada in Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Mumbai are temporarily suspending in-person operations. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the High Commission of Canada in New Delhi,” the Canadian government said on its international.gc.ca website on Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

“Consular services in person remain available at the High Commission of Canada in New Delhi.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Thursday the government has evacuated 41 diplomats from India after New Delhi formally conveyed its plan to Ottawa to strip their diplomatic immunity from them and their 42 family members by Friday.

Now just 21 of its diplomats remain in the country.

Click to play video: 'Canada pulls 41 diplomats from India after diplomatic immunity stripped'
Canada pulls 41 diplomats from India after diplomatic immunity stripped

Joly said the stripping of immunity “would put their personal safety at risk.”

“The safety of Canadians and of our diplomats is always my top concern, given the implications of India’s actions on the safety of our diplomats,” she told reporters in Ottawa.

Joly added Canada would not retaliate in kind, noting that doing so would be contrary to international law. She later said India’s actions were “unreasonable.”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'India has been in touch with Canada ‘at various levels’: Bagchi'
India has been in touch with Canada ‘at various levels’: Bagchi

“There is no reason under international law that would justify a country’s withdrawal of diplomatic immunity in this way overnight, and that includes the Vienna Convention,” Joly said in French.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“This is why I’m saying that it sets a precedent.”

New Delhi has publicly called for “parity” in the number of diplomats each country is hosting amid the row. According to the High Commission of India’s website, New Delhi has 12 diplomats at the high commission in Ottawa, part of the 19 listed as having some form of diplomatic status across the country.

That is among 60 total staff working at the high commission and consulates, not all of whom hold diplomatic status.

Click to play video: 'India says Canadian senate speaker to skip G20 event in New Delhi'
India says Canadian senate speaker to skip G20 event in New Delhi

India’s foreign ministry said in a statement Friday it rejects “any attempt to portray the implementation of parity as a violation of international norms.”

Story continues below advertisement

“The state of our bilateral relations, the much higher number of Canadian diplomats in India, and their continued interference in our internal affairs warrant a parity in mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa,” it said.

“We have been engaged with the Canadian side on this over the last month in order to work out the details and modalities of its implementation.”

It added that its actions are “fully consistent” with Article 11.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which states host nations “can require that the size of a mission be kept within limits considered by it to be reasonable and normal” in the absence of an agreement between two nations.

Click to play video: 'India-Canada relations impact GTA international students as fall convocation approaches'
India-Canada relations impact GTA international students as fall convocation approaches

India’s statement did not mention the removal of diplomatic immunity as Joly reported.

Trudeau said Friday that India’s move to revoke diplomatic immunity should be concerning to all countries.

Story continues below advertisement

“The Indian government is making it unbelievably difficult for life as usual to continue for millions of people in India and in Canada, and they’re doing it by contravening a very basic principle of diplomacy,” he said.

“This is something that should concern everyone, but it’s something that has me very concerned for the well-being and happiness of millions of Canadians who trace their origins to the Indian subcontinent.”

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement the United States was “deeply concerned” by the Canadian diplomats’ departure.

“Resolving differences requires diplomats on the ground,” Miller said. “We have urged the Indian government not to insist upon a reduction in Canada’s diplomatic presence and to cooperate in the ongoing Canadian investigation.”

The British foreign ministry also said it does “not agree” with India’s actions, according to a spokesperson’s statement.

Click to play video: 'Hardeep Singh Nijjar murder: India open to looking at any ‘relevant’ evidence, foreign minister says'
Hardeep Singh Nijjar murder: India open to looking at any ‘relevant’ evidence, foreign minister says

Immigration Minister Marc Miller said Thursday that the staff reduction at immigration offices in India will have an impact on the processing of temporary and permanent resident applications.

Story continues below advertisement

“The lower numbers of staff will have short-term repercussions, and I believe medium-term as well,” he said.

“Clients might see that their applications take longer to process and other questions take longer to answer.”

Miller stressed, however, that Canada remained committed to welcoming Indians into the country despite New Delhi’s actions.

Click to play video: 'Escalating Canada/India tensions worsen travel woes for Indo-Canadians'
Escalating Canada/India tensions worsen travel woes for Indo-Canadians

Nijjar, 45, was a Sikh leader who advocated for the Khalistan movement. India had said Nijjar, who was born in India, had links to terrorism, an allegation Nijjar denied.

India has claimed Canada has become a “safe haven” for terrorists, and has suspended visa services in Canada. Ottawa has not retaliated in kind for that.

India also previously expelled a senior Canadian diplomat after Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat.

Story continues below advertisement

— with files from Global News’ Sean Boynton

Sponsored content

AdChoices