Thank You Steven Harper, Prime Minister of Canada,

Yaar Punjabi

Prime VIP
Thank You Steven Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

On his recent trip to India, the Prime Minister of Canada has been relentlessly attacked for allowing “anti-India” activities in Canada. The Indians, not understanding the concept of freedom of expression, demanded the Canadians take immediate action against innocent Canadian Sikhs who believe in representative self-governance for Punjab.

As India still has oppressive ‘sedition’ laws which legally forbids peaceful dialog about self-governance for Punjab, they believed they could aggressively force the Canadian Prime Minister into, at minimum, making anti Sikh statements or even tricking him into taking legal action against peaceful Canadian Sikhs.

But to their shock, the Prime Minister of Canada gave India the political slap that left them speechless, Harper stated that “violence and terrorism can’t be confused with the right of Canadians to hold and promote their political views” and that “(i)t may be a political position that both the government of Canada and the government of India disagree with”.

On behalf of Canadian Sikhs, we would like to thank you Prime Minister Steven Harper for standing up for Canadian values and Canadian Sikhs.

Taking a strong exception to PM Singh and Minister Preneet Kaur’s statement branding Canadian Sikhs as supporters of terrorism, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) termed it yet another attempt to cover up the November 1984 Genocidal attacks and continuation of malicious campaign against Canadian Sikhs for exposing India’s human rights violations.

SFJ announced to lobby with the Canadian Government to ban the entry of leaders of Congress (I) for their role in conspiring, aiding, abetting and carrying out Genocidal attacks on Sikhs during November 1984. Section 35 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of Canada prohibits the entry into Canada of a human rights violator Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid his respects to India’s minority Sikh population Wednesday, visiting a cherished temple in the Punjab region under the heavy glare of local media.

The visit occurred just a day after Harper came under pressure from India’s leaders to crack down on anti-India extremists in Canada.

They were referring to a small group of Sikhs who are advocating the creation of a separate state — Khalistan — in India.

Harper responded by walking a tightrope: Assuring the government’s leaders that Canada stands for a “united India.”

And yet, on Wednesday, to demonstrate that he will not let the actions of some radical Khalistanis smear all Sikhs, Harper took the symbolic step of visiting one of the most sacred temples in the Sikh faith.

Along with his wife, Laureen, and an invited delegation of Indo-Canadians, Harper placed a scarf on his head and took off his shoes to walk barefoot through the building — known as the Sri Keshgarh Sahib Gurdwara.

Harper stopped twice during the tour to have his photo taken by a small army of media photographers — most from the Punjab, but also some who were Indo-Canadian journalists who had travelled from Canada to cover the event.

Although a tiny minority in India, Sikhs make up a strong portion of Canada’s Indo-Canadian community.

B.S. Balli, a local government official, said that Sikhs were very pleased that Harper had paid them so much respect by visiting their temple.

“They are very happy that the prime minister of Canada is here,” said Balli.

“They feel elevated by his visit over here. It’s a message about humanity. Brotherhood.”

The visit came on the third day of Harper’s visit to India, where the focus has been on expanding trade and improving political ties with the Indian government.

A day earlier, Harper met many of the Indian government’s leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Singh said the two countries share priorities that go beyond expanding trade.

“India and Canada are nations built on shared values that celebrate democracy, inclusiveness and diversity,” said Singh.

“We have similar concerns in combating terrorism, extremism and radicalism. The prime minister and I agreed to deepen our counter-terrorism cooperation.”

Earlier, Harper had heard a similar message from Preneet Kaur, the country’s minister of state for external affairs.

She expressed her nation’s concern about the “revival of anti-India rhetoric in Canada” — an apparent reference to the rise in radical extremism and calls from a small group of Sikhs for the establishment of Khalistan in the Punjab region.

“We have, after very hard times, got a good situation of peace and progress back in Punjab and in India and we would like that to continue,” said Kaur.

Harper responded with a direct pledge, though he made no direct reference to Sikh groups which favor a separate Khalistan.

“Canada is a very strong supporter of a united India,” he said.

“This is a view that is shared not just widely in Canada but very widely and very mainstream among our Indo-Canadian community.”

After visiting the temple on Wednesday, Harper was asked by Canadian journalists if Canada has a problem with Sikh extremism.

“I think the Indian government knows our position,” the prime minister replied.

“We’re aware of the challenges and we’ll keep working on those things”