OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau’s visit to the sub-continent earlier this year has become a political punch-line, even among Liberals.
“India? We didn’t go to India,” is the response when the subject is raised internally.
But Trudeau did — and there were substantive reasons why the visit went so badly.
Trudeau was snubbed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, because it was felt he was soft on the Khalistan movement that wants to establish an independent Sikh homeland in the Punjab region.
What is more likely is that Trudeau is soft on whatever policy might appeal to a key voting block — Canada’s politically-active Sikh community. Punjab, where Sikhs make up a majority, is the largest source of Indian migrants to Canada and Trudeau has boasted about having more Sikhs in his cabinet than Modi.
A refugee claims analysis report for the first six months of this year compiled by the Intelligence and Analysis Section of the Canada Border Services Agency, and obtained by the National Post, offers some clues as to why Modi’s government is at odds with Trudeau.
The report showed that there was a 39 per cent increase in refugee claims by mid-2018, compared to the same period a year earlier. Much of the increase is the result of the well-documented claims by Nigerian nationals crossing from the U.S. at Roxham Road in Quebec — a rise of 300 per cent year over year.
But there has also been a 246 per cent increase in claims by Indian nationals — a surge projected to continue in the second half of the year. By mid-2018, 1,805 claims had been made, 60 per cent at inland immigration offices, rather than at airports or land border crossings. The vast majority of claimants gained access to Canada using temporary resident visas issued by the Canadian government. Most were born in Punjab and neighbouring Haryana.