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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a 2008 file photo.

Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press

The Harper government has issued a groveling apology to India in a spat that began when Canadian visa officers barred several members of the country's security agencies from coming here.

New Delhi had summoned Canada's high commissioner to lodge a protest over the rejection of Indians who had worked for its army or intelligence services in the contested Kashmir region - which the Canadian visa officers termed notoriously violent.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney issued a statement Friday saying Canada works closely on security matters with India.

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"The Government of Canada therefore deeply regrets the recent incident in which letters drafted by public service officials during routine visa refusals to Indian nationals cast false aspersions on the legitimacy of work carried out by Indian defence and security institutions, which operate under the framework of democratic processes and the rule of law," Mr. Kenney said in the statement.

"This language, or the inaccurate impression it has created, in no way reflects the policy or position of the Government of Canada."

Mr. Kenney said non-political civil servants review visa requests, but the incident showed they have too much latitude. He said the government's whole policy on judging whether people should be admitted to Canada is now being reviewed.

Mr. Kenney's own office is already being accused in the Federal Court of Canada of manipulating the same sections of the immigration law to bar controversial British MP George Galloway from entering Canada. He was judged a member of a terror group for leading a "Viva Palestina" aid convoy to Hamas-controlled Gaza. Mr. Kenney's office denies claims it interfered politically to keep Mr. Galloway out.

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About the Author
Chief political writer

Campbell Clark has been a political writer in The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau since 2000. Before that he worked for The Montreal Gazette and the National Post. He writes about Canadian politics and foreign policy. More

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