Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons today that Canada has credible evidence that India was behind the shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent Sikh leader in British Columbia. The Prime Minister and opposition leaders condemned the killing and said India must be held responsible for its actions.
Mr. Speaker, today I am rising to inform the House of an extremely serious matter. I just informed the leaders of the opposition directly, but I want now to speak with all Canadians.
Over the past number of weeks Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Canada is a rule-of-law country. The protection of our citizens and the defence of our sovereignty are fundamental. Our top priorities have therefore been that our law enforcement and security agencies ensure the continued safety of all Canadians, and that all steps be taken to hold perpetrators of this murder to account.
Canada has declared its deep concerns to the top intelligence and security officials of the Indian government. Last week, at the G20, I brought them personally and directly to Prime Minister Modi in no uncertain terms. Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. It is contrary to the fundamental roles by which free, open and democratic societies conduct themselves.
As one would expect, we have been working closely and coordinating with our allies on this very serious matter. In the strongest possible terms I continue to urge the Government of India to co-operate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter. I also expect it to reiterate that its position on extrajudicial operations in another country is clearly and unequivocally in line with international law.
I know many Canadians, particularly members of the Indo-Canadian community, are feeling angry or perhaps frightened right now. Let us not allow this to change us. Let us remain calm and steadfast in our commitment to our democratic principles and our adherence to the rule of law. This is who we are and what we do as Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, moments ago the Prime Minister made me aware of intelligence from his authorities linking the Indian government to the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Before going any further, let me offer my condolences to the family of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in the loss that this represents and the outrageous murder that brought it about.
If these allegations are true, they represent an outrageous affront to Canada’s sovereignty. Our citizens must be safe from extra-judicial killings of all kinds, most of all from foreign governments. Canadians deserve to be protected on Canadian soil. We call on the Indian government to act with utmost transparency as authorities investigate this murder, because the truth must come out. We must know who performed the assassination and who was behind the assassination. Conservatives will continue to work to get these answers.
All Canadians now stand with diaspora communities of Indian origin. It is now in this time that the official opposition makes an appeal for calm. We are all Canadians. This is our country. We must be united for our home and for each other. Let us all lock arms and join hands in condemning this murder, standing with the family and friends of its victim.
Let us all put aside our differences to stand up for the rule of law, one law for all of our people, a law made in this chamber by Canadians for Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, what we have just learned today in the House is something that shocks the safety and security so many Canadians rely on. It is outrageous, it is shocking and it is going to have deep and devastating impacts to Canadians. I want to also begin by acknowledging the family of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a family that is now learning that the loss of its loved one was potentially directly related to Indian government involvement. I spoke with Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s son, and I could hear the pain of that loss in his voice. I can only imagine how much more painful it is going to be, knowing this potential connection.
On a personal reflection, I want to share what this means to the Sikh community. I grew up hearing many stories that if someone raised concerns about human rights violations in India, they might be denied a visa or that if they went back India, they could suffer violence, torture and even death. I grew up hearing those stories, but to hear the Prime Minister of Canada corroborate a potential link between a murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil by a foreign government is something I could never have imagined.
To understand what that means to the community, this is a place that so many people around the world have sought as refuge. People have fled persecution in their home countries, where they were threatened by torture, violence and death, to come to Canada as a beacon of safety, a place where they could be safe and free from violence and be able to speak their thoughts, speak their minds and not worry if they would wake up dead the next day or if someone they loved would be tortured or killed. That safety and security that so many Canadians feel has now been rocked. It has been shocked and destabilized.
I want to send a message directly to activists across our country who have fled persecution and who speak truth to power knowing of the real dire consequences to themselves and potentially to their family. I want to speak directly to people of Indian descent who have come to Canada who spoke justice, spoke truth to power and who challenged the oppressive practices of India: caste violence, violence against women, systemic abuse of minority communities and systemic abuse of the poor. I want to speak directly to those activists. Governments around the world are trying to silence them. The Indian government. and the Modi government specifically, is attempting to silence them, but truth cannot be silenced. Justice cannot and will not be silenced.
We know that the practice of the Indian government has been one of division, violence, persecution and attacking those who are critical of the government. It is now an important time to send a clear message as a democratic country. As a country that respects the rule of law, what will be our response? I want people to know that as leader of the New Democratic Party I will use every tool at my disposal to ensure that Canada uses every tool and every power of a democratic nation to bring those responsible to justice. We will ensure that no rock in unturned, that every possible link will be examined and that a public inquiry should also turn its eye to this with the full rigour of that public inquiry. We need to know the truth. We need to know all potential links, and anyone and everyone responsible should be brought to justice using the full power of a democratic nation.
I call on our allies to condemn this violence, this direct violation of a sovereign nation’s rights, and to condemn this act in the harshest terms possible. This will require all democratic nations to come together to send a clear message about what it means that a foreign nation killed a Canadian on Canadian soil. This is something all democratic nations have to stand up and denounce clearly.
Finally, I want to send a clear message to many people who are learning of this and will be angry and are going to be afraid. I understand why they would be angry and afraid. I call for everyone who is hearing this news now to come together, and not in anger, but in love for justice. There is a Sikh practice that the love of justice is what we should focus on not the anger, the frustration and the fear, but on the love for justice.
Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to join my colleagues in response to this horrific and chilling news that the Prime Minister has shared with us.
I was particularly grateful for the tone taken. To the first person to speak after the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, I heed his words, if we link arms and join hands in the quest for justice, which was just so passionately and eloquently spoken of by the honourable member for Burnaby South, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, on behalf of all Greens, we pledge to join with our colleagues in a non-partisan fashion.