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Canadian parliamentary report accuses India of funding parties to influence policy, gain information

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New Delhi: India has been accused by a Canadian parliamentary report of funding domestic political parties to influence Ottawa’s electoral process, lobby for New Delhi-friendly policies and gain confidential information.

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) said in its report, “India emerged as the second-most significant foreign interference threat to Canada’s democratic institutions and processes.”

“It became clear during the period of this review that its efforts had extended beyond countering what it perceived as pro-Khalistani efforts in Canada to include interfering in Canadian democratic processes and institutions, including through the targeting of Canadian politicians, ethnic media and Indo-Canadian ethnocultural communities,” added the report published Monday.

On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Parliament that Ottawa “takes foreign interference very seriously” and was ensuring all “necessary measures” to protect Canadians.

While the public report has multiple redactions, including the names of individuals allegedly colluding with foreign intelligence agencies, an unredacted version of the report was submitted to Trudeau in March 2024.

Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland Tuesday refused to commit to removing any member of the Liberal Party if they were found to have worked with foreign intelligence agencies, according to Canadian media reports.

The NSICOP report comes a month after the foreign interference inquiry commission headed by Justice Marie-Josée Hogue found that China, and to a lesser extent India and Pakistan, had engaged in foreign interference, but the activities did not meet the threshold for criminal investigation.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in February had strongly rejected “all such baseless allegations” of interference by India in Canadian electoral processes. Randhir Jaiswal, the spokesperson of the MEA, claimed that it was Canada “which has been interfering” in Indian domestic affairs.

The NSICOP, set up in 2017 by the government of Justin Trudeau, comprises members from the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate and has powers to review the policy and financial framework for national security, any matter referred to the committee by the Crown and the activity carried out by intelligence agencies.

The NSICOP report also said that India, China, Iran and at least two other countries — whose names were redacted — were the “primary perpetrators” of transnational repression of their diaspora present in Canada.

The NSICOP report has been published at a time when Trudeau faces tough questions about not being fully transparent and not sharing documents available with the government with the inquiry commission, according to media reports.

Ties between Canada and India were seriously affected after Trudeau said last September that Ottawa had “credible allegations” linking agents of the Indian government to the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, was a Sikh separatist designated as a terrorist by India.

Four Indians have been arrested and charged by Canadian authorities with the killing of Nijjar.

India has denied any link to the killing, and called Canadian allegations “absurd and motivated”. No evidence linking Indian government agencies  with the killing has been shared by Canadian authorities.

Different methods of alleged interference

From media interference to cultivating relationships with Canadians and parliamentarians and even funding nomination contests, the report flagged a variety of ways in which India allegedly interfered in the Canadian electoral processes.

A redacted case study mentioned in the report said, “This case study described an example of India likely reimbursing a proxy who had provided funds to candidates of two federal parties.”

The report also alleged that India had interfered with the leadership race of the Conservative Party of Canada. It mentioned that a former MP maintained a relationship with a foreign intelligence officer, but made no mention of which country the officer was from.

“For its part India has an active proxy, who has proactively looked for ways to further India’s interests by monitoring and attempting to influence politicians,” said the report while describing “an example of India likely reimbursing a proxy who had provided funds to candidates of two federal parties”.

The two MPs were unaware that the funding came from India, according to the report.

(Edited by Tikli Basu)


Also read: A global jihadist movement continues to grow in Canada—beyond Khalistan


 



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