For the majority of his time as Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has been perceived as a golden boy by the rest of the world. But after his eight-day visit to India last week, that perception and his public image seem to have imploded.
The trip began on a bad note, as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi largely ignored Trudeau’s arrival. It took seven days (of an eight day trip) for the two to meet in person. Not quite the warmest welcome.
Why all this tension? It turns out that a Sikh separatist movement that calls for the creation of an ethnostate called “Khalistan” in India is active in Canada, and our government has been criticized for indulging these separatists. The Canadian government has denied these allegations and officially supports one united India, but this hasn’t stopped the separatists from having a soft spot for the Great White North. Trudeau even had to turn down an invitation to dine with a Sikh extremist.
Now, Trudeau is notorious for wearing traditional attire on official visits to show a form of cultural understanding and respect. But whoever planned his wardrobe for those eight days totally missed the mark. Trudeau was overdressed.
Dressed in flashy red robes and even a traditional Indian wedding groom’s outfit, his cultural appreciation bordered on insulting and patronizing. Past Canadian visitors have shown respect by wearing simple, respectable turbans: not our current PM. At first the people of India embraced the fashion, but grew tired of these flashy displays after several days. The backlash forced Trudeau to switch into a suit halfway through the trip.
Bad fashion aside, Trudeau and the government made one more tremendous blunder: attempted murderer Jaspal Atwal was invited to not one, but two Canadian hosted events.
In 1986, Atwal shot and wounded an Indian cabinet minister who was visiting Vancouver Island, and the prospect of this would-be assassin attending a Canadian event enraged many. How did the Canadian government respond? Daniel Jean, Trudeau’s national security adviser, reported that Atwal was purposefully invited to the event by factions of the Indian government in order to sabotage Trudeau’s visit.
This government conspiracy theory might seem ludicrous, but it has now been backed by Trudeau himself. When asked by an opposing MP about the matter, Trudeau responded, “Our professional non-partisan service does high quality work, and when one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians it’s because they know it to be true.”
So upon returning from an already rough trip to India that was meant to bolster trade and friendship, our Prime Minister has publicly supported a theory that part of the trip was sabotaged by the Indian government. The relationship between the two countries may have only gotten worse thanks to the actions of our PM, but somehow a trade deal was still — miraculously — struck.
Trudeau announced that Canadian and Indian companies have signed 66 new contracts worth $1 billion in total. This is a little misleading as India will invest $250 million in Canada, while Canada will invest $750 million in India.
This trip included a distant foreign Prime Minister, Sikh separatism, ignorant clothing, a murderous guest, and a government conspiracy theory. Not to mention a lacklustre trade deal. Next time Canada wants to improve relations with another country, it might be best if Trudeau stays at home.