As diplomatic ties between Canada and India remain frosty over the killing of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June, Canada addressed the issue of foreign interference in its address at the 78th United Nations General Assembly.
Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, spoke on Tuesday to the General Assembly about the need to “uphold the values of free and democratic societies” as the rules-based international order faces major threats from countries challenging long-standing norms.
“We cannot bend the rules of state-to-state relations for political expediency, because we’ve seen and continue to see the extent to which democracies are under threat through various means of foreign interference,” Rae said.
“The truth is, if we don’t adhere to the rules that we’ve agreed to, the very fabric of our open and free societies may tear.”
His speech comes one week after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada has “credible” evidence that agents of the Indian government may be linked to the murder of Nijjar.
The Indian government has vehemently rejected the allegations.
Earlier in the day, India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also addressed the UNGA. Although Jaishankar did not address the allegations of interference against his government, he said, “The days when a few nations set the agenda and expected others to follow orders are over.”
Both India and Canada have issued travel advisories for their respective citizens, India even suspending visa services for Canadians after saying Canada was a “safe haven” for terrorists.
On Sunday, Canada issued a travel advisory that read, “In the context of recent developments in Canada and in India, there are calls for protests and some negative sentiment towards Canada on social media.”
Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc has suggested Indian interference in Canada could be looked at within the scope of an ongoing public inquiry into foreign interference, which is also probing actions by Chinese and Russian actors, among others.
Toward the end of his speech, Rae also addressed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying the human cost of the invasion was “staggering” and warning against the “ripple effects” of the war.
“Russia has also blocked the Black Sea Grain Initiative. It’s holding the world’s food supply hostage. It’s causing the price of living to go up in every single country in the world. It’s putting millions of people unemployed in countries around the world,” Rae said.
“It’s turning countries against each other. We have to realize Russia does not have the best interests of any of us in mind.”