Canada opposition party postpones anti-Khalistan motion after Sikh protests | world news | Hindustan Times
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Canada opposition party postpones anti-Khalistan motion after Sikh protests

The motion sought to condemn all forms of terrorism and the glorification of any individuals who have committed acts of violence to advance the cause of an independent Khalistani state in India.

world Updated: Mar 02, 2018 15:12 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on February 28, 2018.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on February 28, 2018. (REUTERS FILE)

The Opposition Conservative Party of Canada postponed a motion criticising Khalistani terrorism and supporting a united India after campaigns by some Sikh groups against bringing it forward for a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday.

The motion was moved by party MP Erin O’Toole but hours before it was set for debate, it was deferred.

A spokesperson for party leader Andrew Scheer, Jake Enright told Hindustan Times that the decision on delaying the motion was taken as it “doesn’t reflect the context of the issue at hand.”

He pointed to developments around Liberal Party MP Randeep Sarai owning responsibility for an invitation to an official dinner reception, during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent visit to India, to Jaspal Atwal, convicted for an attempt to murder a visiting minister from Punjab in 1987. Trudeau has defended the allegation made by a senior national security official that “rogue” elements in the Indian government may have planted him to sabotage the trip.

Enright said the motion as it stood did not “capture” the full range of the “diplomatic dispute” between Canada and India over this matter.

He said the party “may bring this forward when we can”, but said the timing will depend on when the government places it on the House schedule and that could be a month away.

He said the text for motion is what was originally tabled but amendments may be made. The motion sought to “condemn in the strongest terms all forms of terrorism, including Khalistani extremism and the glorification of any individuals who have committed acts of violence to advance the cause of an independent Khalistani state in India.”

It also stood with a “united India” while valuing “the contributions of Canadian Sikhs and Canadian of Indian origin in our national life.”

The motion has drawn a sharp reaction from some groups who had started a campaign of calling and messaging Scheer and O’Toole at their listed numbers.

After the decision to shelve the motion for now, the Canadian Sikh Association, based in the Greater Toronto Area, said in a Facebook post: “Throughout the whole night, the Sikh Community has been working aggressively to refute the frivolous allegations of labelling our community as terrorists at the request of foreign and corrupt entities. We are thankful that the Conservative Party of Canada has come to its senses and confirms at 7:30 am this morning that they will not proceed with the motion. Our children will continue to live in Canada without facing foreign intimidation.”

That pushback may well have played a role in pushing back the motion, which may emerge in another form at the later date.