India rubbishes Canada poll interference charge

| | New Delhi
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India rubbishes Canada poll interference charge

Friday, 09 February 2024 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

India on Thursday rejected Canada's allegations of Indian interference in the country's elections as "baseless" and said "on the reverse side, it was Canada which has been interfering in India's internal affairs."

Making these assertions here, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said, "We have seen media reports of Canadian Commission inquiring into foreign interferences… we strongly reject such baseless allegations of Indian interference in Canadian elections. It is not the Government of India's policy to interfere in the democratic process of other countries, in fact, quite on the reverse, it is Canada which has been interfering in our internal affairs," he said.

"We have been raising this issue regularly with them and we continue to call on Canada to take effective measures to address our core concerns," he added.

An independent commission, set up by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in September last year, probing alleged foreign interference in Canada has asked the Trudeau government to share information about a possible meddling in elections by India.

The commission said in a statement that it had requested the Canadian government to provide documents "relating to alleged interference by India related to the 2019 and 2021 elections."

Meanwhile, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in its report has alleged that China sought to "clandestinely and deceptively influence" its last two federal elections, whilst also naming India as a foreign interference threat. This top-secret briefing report also stated that the Canadian government "must do more" to fight foreign interference.

"The Foreign Interference activities of the People's Republic of China are significant, pervasive, and directed against all levels of government and civil society across the country," the report stated.

On the "foreign interference of India", the report predicted that the problem could worsen and "we must do more to protect Canada's robust democratic institutions and processes."

India was the only country mentioned in the report aside from China. Although three pages of the report were devoted to India, they were entirely redacted later to just say a single sentence: "India engages in FI activities."

Diplomatic ties between India and Canada worsened in September last year Prime Minister Trudeau told the Canadian Parliament that it was possible the Indian government had a hand in the murder of a Khalistani separatist in Canada in June.

Prior to Trudeau's statement, Canada had also "paused" negotiations with India towards an Early Progress Trade Agreement in late August.

India suspended visas issuance to Canadians right after Trudeau's statement but that was restored in November. It also sought "parity" in diplomatic presence, leading to 41 Canadian diplomats leaving India in October.

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