19th June 2021, Toronto, Canada: The Consulate General of India in Toronto, government body of India wrote a letter dated March 11th to Government of Ontario stating that study material in various schools in Ontario under the jurisdiction of Peel, Toronto and York region district school boards are ‘pushing a polarizing narrative, based on disinformation and creates hatred against India, Indian nationals and people with Indian heritage’.
“The consulate general would further like to state that it considers that this incident to be extremely serious and views it as a conspiracy to sabotage the goodwill and warm friendly relation between India and Canada by inimical entities to further their own nefarious agenda,” the consulate letter goes on to utter a security threat towards Canada.
Back in December 2020 when the Canadian Prime Minister, the Leader of the Official Opposition and other cabinet ministers and members of parliament commented on the Farmers protest and expressed their concerns, they were summoned by the ministry of external (MEA) affairs stating that this was an unacceptable interference in India’s internal affairs. “Such actions, if continued, would have a seriously damaging impact on ties between India and Canada,” the MEA stated.
The Indian government has repeated these verbal threats again in their letter. “The consulate General would like to convey that given the seriousness of this issue which can potentially poison the bilateral relations between Indian and Ontario, threaten the security of Indian nationals in Ontario and disrupt the peaceful relations between various communities, this development should be treated as a security threat, both to India and Canada.”
As per the Canadian Security Intelligence Service unclassified document , “Foreign interference is distinct from normal diplomatic conduct or acceptable foreign state lobbying;........ States cross a line anytime they go beyond diplomacy to conduct activities that attempt to threaten our citizens, residents and institutions, or to compromise our way of life, undermine our democratic processes,or damage our economic prosperity.
It also states, “Foreign governments engage in foreign interference activities in Canada and target Canadians to advance their interests, sometimes at our expense, in an effort to achieve geopolitical, economic, military and strategic advantage. They seek to sow discord, disrupt our economy, bias policy development and decision-making, and to influence public opinion. In many cases, clandestine influence operations are meant to support foreign political agendas or to deceptively influence the targeted country’s policies, officials, research institutions or democratic processes.
We are amazed by how they are concerned about the Indian nationals in Canada but they are letting the poor ‘Indian Farmers’ die on the roads in the heart of their country. It has been more than 6 months since these protests started against the three black laws and over 500 farmers have died protesting for their rights. However, the Indian Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar stated that “Centre is willing to hold talks with farmer organizations if they want to discuss anything other than repealing agricultural laws.”
A visible level of insensitivity by the Indian government is being adopted towards its citizens in their own country and maintains the audacity to interfere in Canada’s internal matters in the name of protecting people of Indian ethnicity.
The National Post in the past has also warned China in a report that it fears India maybe using foreign interference to advance their agendas. The Canadian press in the report obtained through access-to-information law mentions, “..including cyberattacks, efforts to spread misinformation and using diaspora communities, either directly or indirectly, to steal technology, influence elections and target Canada’s economy, infrastructure and democratic institutions.”
Canadian civil and human rights organisations should hear this as a clarion call to stand up for their rights and write to their elected members of parliament to stop Indian interference into the Canadian political system.
Manpreet Kaur (Note: Author Manpreet Kaur is a freelancer journalist based out of Toronto and can be reached on TSL twitter handle at @Manmeet19121207)