NEW DELHI: Amid a series of anti-India protests and death threats to Indian diplomats in Canada by Khalistani extremists, which had evoked sharp reactions from New Delhi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday said that though his country will always defend freedom of peaceful protest, at the same time, it will also push back against hatred.
In a media interaction after meeting his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi after the conclusion of the G20 summit, Trudeau, in reply to a question on whether the issue of Khalistani extremists came up during the meeting, said: "Over the years, with PM Modi, we have had many conversations on these issues.
"Canada will always defend freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and freedom of peaceful protest and it is extremely important to us. At the same time we are always there to prevent violence and to push back against hatred.
"I think on the issue of the community, it is important to remember that the actions of the few do not represent the entire community or Canada. The flip side of it, we also highlighted the importance of respecting the rule of law."
In July this year, incidents of Khalistani elements protesting outside the Indian consulate in Toronto displaying "Kill India" posters, had led to Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar saying that Canada was apparently allowing these protests driven by votebank politics.
Canadian High Commissioner to India Cameron MacKay was also summoned to the
Ministry of External Affairs as Khalistani posters featuring the names of Indian diplomats were doing the rounds on social media.
The Indian government had also issued a strong demarche regarding the posters' incident and another similar incident which had taken place on March 23 this year.
Meanwhile on bilateral relations, Trudeau said: "We recognise that India is an extraordinarily important economy in the world and an important partner to Canada on everything from fighting climate change to creating growth and prosperity for the citizens. There is always a lot of work to do and we will continue to do it."
"Met PM @JustinTrudeau on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. We discussed the full range of India-Canada ties across different sectors," Modi posted on X after meeting Trudeau.