Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Critics Latch onto Perceived Snub, Costume Changes, as Trudeau Tours India

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Critics Latch onto Perceived Snub, Costume Changes, as Trudeau Tours India

Article excerpt

Trudeau snubbed in India? And if so, why?


OTTAWA - A clash of political ideals may be behind a perceived snub of Justin Trudeau that was making international headlines as the prime minister passed the mid-point of his week-long trip to India, one expert familiar with the region said Wednesday.

Those headlines were also writing the script for the Conservative Opposition at home, who pounced on the visit as just another expensive Trudeau family vacation marking an erosion of Canada-India relations.

Media outlets including CNN and Al Jazeera seized on the comments of Indian officials who accused the Trudeau government of backing Sikh separatists known as the Khalistani movement.

"Over the years, the Canadian political establishment ... has been mollycoddling Khalistani elements," former Indian envoy to Canada Vishnu Prakash told Indian news site The Print on Monday.

"Under the Trudeau government, this has increased."

They also took notice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's failure to formally greet Trudeau or even acknowledge his presence in the country as the visit began.

A junior Indian minister met Trudeau when he and his wife and three children arrived in New Delhi late Saturday.

While it isn't protocol, Modi has been known to receive guests personally in the past, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January.

However, when former prime minister Stephen Harper arrived for a visit to India in 2014, he was not met at the airport by the Indian prime minister either.

Officials from the right-wing, ruling Bharatiya Janata party have denied that Trudeau was being snubbed. Moreover, Modi was not in Delhi when Trudeau arrived.

Trudeau has also dismissed concerns about his diplomatic calendar, noting that he met Modi "very recently."

Indeed, Modi personally invited Trudeau to visit his country.

When Modi visited Canada in April 2015 -- the first such visit to Canada by an Indian prime minister in more than four decades -- he was greeted by then-prime minister Harper on the first full day of his three-day visit with a 21-gun salute and full military honours.

But Trudeau and Harper are very different people, making it more likely that Modi has avoided greeting the Liberal prime minister with open arms because the two men don't remotely share the same world view, said Ferry de Kerckhove, a University of Ottawa professor who was once Canadian high commissioner to India's neighbour, Pakistan. …

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