Describing the Canadian government’s move to disallow his interactions with NRIs in Toronto and Vancouver as a “gag order”, Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh on Friday wrote to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to lodge his protest over the development.
Amarinder was informed by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar that the Canadian government has not allowed his public interactions during his proposed visit to Canada beginning tomorrow.
In his two-page letter to Trudeau, Amarinder said, “It feels like a gag order that has left a very bad taste, more so when issued by a democratic government like the Canadian….It is surprising and ironical that the refusal to allow me public interactions has come barely after a few weeks of your personally expressing regrets over the Komagata Maru tragedy.”
The former Punjab chief minister, who is on a three-week tour of the United States and Canada to address NRIs, said in his letter that the Canadian ‘gag order’ undermined the fundamental freedoms the Canadian Constitution guarantees.
“I believed and I still believe that the Canadian constitution under Section 2 guarantees some ‘fundamental freedoms’ which also include ‘freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association’. Your government’s gag order undermines these fundamental freedoms,” he said.
Noting that the cancelled interactions and gatherings had been organised by the local Canadian citizens only and he was to be there only as “their and your guest”.
The Canadian government has invoked provisions of “Global Affairs Canada” policy that forbids foreign governments to conduct election campaigns in Canada or establish foreign political parties and movements in Canada.
Amarinder clarified to the Canadian PM that he had no intentions of carrying out any election campaign in Canada as there were no elections in Punjab as of now and neither did he have any plans to setting up a political party or movement in Canada.