There is zero proof of Canadian support to Khalistan: Brampton MP

Backs Canadian PM Justin Trudeau: Raj Grewal says Canada is happy with student inflow from India.

punjab Updated: Feb 22, 2018 09:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Canadian support,Khalistan,Brampton MP
Raj Grewal, MP from Brampton(HT Photo)

“Ask Prime Minister Modi, I don’t work in his office.” Raj Grewal, introduced as the youngest MP in Canada, refused to be drawn into any controversy regarding the welcome accorded to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as he addressed the media at a private reception here.

When asked about Canada being home to supporters of Khalistan, Grewal, the MP from Brampton, said: “It’s not the first time this question has been posed to a Canadian premier, it was posed to previous visiting PMs as well. But there is zero evidence of this support.”

The Canadian charter, he said, protects the freedom of speech, particularly the freedom of political speech of all its citizens. “Even if our government believes in united India policy, our freedom of speech protects the rights of a citizen to have an opinion different from that of the government. And we will always fight to safeguard this right.”

When asked if it was chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s persistence that led to the meeting with Trudeau, he said it was all due to scheduling. “There was no meeting scheduled at first, and then later it was scheduled,” he said.

On the perceived chill in the ties between the two countries, he said: “The relationship between Canada and India is very deep, it’s not just about two governments, it’s about people-to-people connect and PM Trudeau received a very warm response from people in various Indian cities. Trudeau is looking forward to meeting PM Modi on Friday.”

Asked whether Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan was mollified now that the Punjab CM had met him, Grewal chose to heap praises on “veer ji”, who he said had served Canada all his life, be it as a cop, an army officer and now as a minister.

Quite upbeat about trade with India, Grewal said they are particularly happy with the student programme. “At present, there are 1.25 lakh Indian students in our educational institutions. They are contributing billions of dollars to our economy.”

When it was pointed out that most students from Punjab study in Canada in order to immigrate, Grewal said Canada is a country of 36 million that thrives on good talent. “Educated Indians are a great export for India and a great import for Canada,” he said.

When asked about Canadian investments in Punjab, Grewal said Canadian businessmen wanted to invest here, but they were concerned about the long judicial process to settle claims. “If something goes wrong, they fear it takes five to 10 years to settle a claim in India.”

On visa on arrival for Indians, Grewal said the present government is working to make the visa process more transparent and quick. “But it still takes 25-30 days for a tourist visa,” he said, adding that Canada receives 2.15 lakh tourists from India every year.

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 09:35 IST