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Family, 6 ministers to accompany Canadian PM Justin Trudeau on visit to Golden Temple

Among the ministers will be four Sikhs of Punjabi origin, including Harjit Sajjan whom CM had boycotted when he visited last year, Navdeep Bains, Amarjit Sohi and Bardish Chagger

punjab Updated: Feb 16, 2018 09:38 IST
Surjit Singh
PM Justin Trudeau attends Khalsa Day celebrations in Toronto, Canada, in May last year.
PM Justin Trudeau attends Khalsa Day celebrations in Toronto, Canada, in May last year. (Reuters file)

Apart from his family, six of his ministers — including the four Sikh members of Punjabi origin in the cabinet of 30 — and 18 MPs from his country will accompany Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he visits the Golden Temple here on February 21 as part of his India visit (February 17-23).

The ministers of Punjabi origin are Harjit Singh Sajjan (defence), Navdeep Singh Bains (innovation, science and economic development), Amarjit Singh Sohi (infrastructure and communities) and Bardish Chagger (small business and tourism), who is also the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. A 35-member media delegation from Canada will also be with Trudeau.

This information was shared by officials of the local administration after a visit by a Canadian team to review arrangements at the primary Sikh shrine on Thursday. The team comprised at least 12 officials from security agencies, the Canadian high commission and the office of the Canadian PM. It is learnt that this was the third such visit by Canadian officials, though the earlier visits earlier this month were kept secret.

Accompanied by police and other officials, a Canadian team takes stock of arrangements ahead of PM Justin Trudeau to the Golden Temple, in Amritsar on Thursday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)

Officials of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which manages this and other Sikh shrines, showed the team how Trudeau will be received and the route inside that he will take for the sanctum sanctorum. Led by SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh, the officials also took the team to the langar hall where Trudeau is likely to partake of a community meal. “It depends on his will if he performs sewa (voluntarily service) too for the langar,” said Roop Singh. The Canadian delegation later held a meeting with SGPC and district officials and the police.

Confirming the date, deputy commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said Trudeau will come in the morning and stay at the shrine for around an hour.

May visit Partition Museum too

PM Trudeau, who will be accompanied by chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, is also likely to visit the partition Museum recently established in the colonial-era building of Town Hall in the vicinity of Golden Temple. The Canadian team inspected the museum too, it is learnt.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) with defence minister Harjit Sajjan (L) in Ottawa. (Reuters File)

The CM’s accompanying Trudeau is notable as, earlier, when Sajjan visited Punjab last year, he had not met him over alleged support to pro-Khalistan separatist elements in Canada, though Sajjan and other ministers recently denied favouring the secessionist movement in a statement just ahead of Trudeau’s visit.

It must also be mentioned that the SGPC wants to set up a special stage at the entrance of the Golden temple for Trudeau, such as the ones set up for Queen Elizabeth II (1997) and the then prime minister Manmohan Singh (2004). For Sajjan, the SGPC had set up a tent at the entrance plaza, though its size was relatively small.