Wednesday, May 22, 2024

India covertly funded preferred candidates in 2021 Canadian election: report

The public inquiry investigating foreign interference in Canada released an interim report on Friday that suggests the Indian government may have attempted, through its proxy agents, to covertly provide financial support to selected candidates during the general election in 2021.

The Foreign Interference Commission of Canada report details incidents of foreign meddling in the federal political processes in Canada between 2019 and 2021.

According to the report, there have been instances where Canadian politicians have accepted “illicit financial support” from Indian operatives without realising it.

“SITE [Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Taskforce] did observe foreign interference activities targeting certain ridings and candidates in relation to the election, directed largely from China, and to a lesser extent from India and Pakistan, through the use of human agents,” said the report. “None of the activities met the threshold to pursue criminal investigations.”

After conducting months of investigation and hearing from more than 60 witnesses during 21 days of hearings, the Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions has released its Initial Report, which focuses on foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

According to the research, Canada’s sizable South Asian population is the reason for India’s interest in that North American nation. According to the statement, the interference is aimed at turning Canada favourable to India’s antagonism against Canadian supporters of Khalistan (the autonomous Sikh homeland) movement.

The report claims that some members of the South Asian community are viewed by the Indian government to be encouraging “an anti-India sentiment,” which poses a risk to the peace and security of  the country.

It further claimed that “India does not differentiate between lawful, pro-Khalistani political advocacy and the relatively small Canada-based Khalistani violent extremism.” 

“It views anyone aligned with Khalistani separatism as a seditious threat to India,” the report added.

According to the report, not only does India target members of the Indo-Canadian community with its foreign interference, but it also targets notable non-Indo-Canadians with its foreign influence operations.

The report stated that although these actions might not be intended to directly influence Canada’s democratic institutions, they are nonetheless alarming.

The report was released to the public on the same day when three Indian nationals were arrested by Canadian authorities on suspicion of being involved in the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

In relation to the case, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested Karanpreet Singh, Kamalpreet Singh, and Karan Brar from Edmonton, Alberta. They are accused of conspiracy and first-degree murder.

India rejected Canada’s allegations and labelled the report as pro-Khalistan.

Since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau informed the nation’s legislature in September that intelligence services were actively investigating “credible allegations” linking Indian government operatives to Nijjar’s death, Indo-Canadian diplomatic ties have been strained.

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