Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Justin Trudeau, left, meets with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in Amritsar, India, on Feb. 21, 2018.

Amritsar District Public Relations Officer

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he made it "very, very clear" to the chief minister of Punjab that Canada supports a united India and condemns violent extremism, describing repeated allegations from the leader of the predominately Sikh region that Canadian ministers are separatists as misunderstandings and false.

Trudeau and his Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan met Amarinder Singh on Wednesday in part to try and mend fences with the state where a majority of Indian Canadians are from.

Trudeau's position is that Canada supports a united India and absolutely condemns violence for any cause, but will not crack down on those advocating peacefully for an independent Sikh state because that is a freedom of speech issue.

Story continues below advertisement

"We will always stand against violent extremism, but we understand that diversity of views is one of the great strengths of Canada," Trudeau said. "I was able to make that very clear to him."

Tensions between Canada and India have risen in recent years over Indian concerns about a rise in Sikh extremism coming from some of Canada's Sikh communities. Trudeau's appearances at some Sikh events where extremist supporters also showed up caused unhappiness in India. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has raised the issue with Trudeau several times and it likely will come up again when the two leaders meet in Delhi on Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he made it clear to Punjab’s chief minister at their meeting that Canada supports a united India. Amarinder Singh has accused several Canadian ministers of supporting Sikh separatist extremists. The Canadian Press

Last April, Singh said he was not interested in meeting any Canadian cabinet ministers because he thought Canada's approach was too soft regarding Sikh Canadians who favour an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan. He snubbed Sajjan when the minister visited India in April, calling him and the other three Sikh ministers in Trudeau's cabinet "Khalistani sympathizers."

He repeated those allegations just two weeks before Trudeau left for India and Sajjan and Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi both vehemently denied any ties to separatist movements. Sajjan called the comments defamatory.

In a Facebook post made Wednesday after the meeting, Singh said he was "happy to receive categorical assurance" from Trudeau that Canada supports a united India.

"His words are a big relief to all of us here in India and we look forward to the government's support in tackling fringe separatist elements," Singh wrote.

In a conversation with reporters later Wednesday, Trudeau would not say whether he believes there is actually a fringe Sikh separatist problem in Canada. He said only Canada has been working with Indian authorities to keep people safe from violent extremism.

Story continues below advertisement

"We will continue to work on these issues wherever they arise," said Trudeau.

Singh welcomed Trudeau warmly at a hotel in Amritsar and asked him about his trip so far. He was polite, but more guarded, in greeting Sajjan.

The meeting almost didn't take place. Although Singh told Indian media he would meet Trudeau at the Golden Temple in Amritsar during the prime minister's visit, Trudeau's office said before leaving for India that wasn't going to happen and no meeting was being arranged.

That changed Sunday when Sajjan himself asked for a meeting with himself, Trudeau and Singh.

Earlier in the day, Trudeau spent time at the Golden Temple, the holiest site in Sikhism, where thousands of worshippers lined the walkways and called out religious greetings as Trudeau passed.

The temple in some ways is directly tied to the tensions between India and Canada. In 1984, India's army had a violent clash with Sikhs in the temple, an incident which the Ontario legislature recently voted to label a genocide. That event is believed to have been partly behind the bombing of an Air India flight from Canada in 1985 which killed 329 people.

Story continues below advertisement

Despite the tensions around the separatist issue, Trudeau's welcome to Punjab was warm. Welcoming posters and banners bearing his picture lined the streets, much as they did in Ahmedabad earlier this week.

Both Singh and Trudeau seemed to indicate their meeting was a reset on the relationship that can now turn to fostering economic and cultural ties between Canada and Punjab.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies