Canadian PMO in damage control mode, brings Justin Trudeau’s trip back on track

Canadian PMO in damage control mode, brings Justin Trudeau’s trip back on track

As the initial phase of the eight-day visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attracted wonder and even ridicule in his country, the Prime Minister’s Office has taken control of the remaining engagements to bring the trip back on track.

The original itinerary was decided with the advice of Indo-Canadian cabinet minister Navdeep Bains, who is Trudeau’s point person for the Indo-Canadian community and relations with India, and implemented by Canada’s high commissioner to New Delhi, Nadir Patel, people familiar with the developments said.

However, they pointed out, the itinerary left just half-a-day for official engagements in New Delhi, and that too on the penultimate day of the visit. In fact, it would have been the final day if the trip had not been extended to February 24.

With the Prime Minister’s Office driving the agenda now, Trudeau was personally responsible for the formulation “one united India”, the term he has used to mollify the Indian government, which has been concerned with his Liberal Party’s pandering to Khalistani elements in Canada.

That phrase could also figure in the joint statement that is expected following Trudeau’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 23.

The messaging also extended to the issue of the 1985 terrorist bombing of an Air India flight that claimed 329 lives, including 268 Canadian citizens. He was asked during a news conference on Wednesday about the practice in some gurdwaras in Canada to have posters glorifying Talwinder Singh Parmar, considered the mastermind of that terror attack.

In response, Trudeau said, “I do not think that we should ever be glorifying mass murderers and I am happy to condemn that.”

 This was in sharp contrast to the evasion of the issue by New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, after he was asked the same question during a televised interview soon after as he was elected to the post last October.

It also led to Trudeau’s amicable meeting with Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and his “categorical assurance” that Canada does not support separatists.

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