The world isn’t a fair place. The rule of law doesn’t apply globally. Might is often right.
This reality overarches Canada’s accusation that the Indian government orchestrated the murder/assassination of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar as he left his temple in Surrey. If the evidence is there, then PM Trudeau had no alternative to pointing the finger.
But there’s little hope of anything beyond an accusation. India denies the allegation so there will be no help there for bringing the alleged assassins to justice.
And India is in the big league when it comes to being held accountable. It isn’t exactly an economic heavyweight, at least not yet, but it is a military heavyweight, complete with nuclear weapons. And being the most populous nation on the planet gives it extra clout.
Furthermore, favour with India is in great demand these days. The U.S. and its Western and Indo-Pacific allies are courting it as a bulwark and counterweight to its neighbour to the north. And, at a time of aggression in Ukraine, they would very much like to tease it away from its friendship with Russia.
Furthermore, India is making a play to counter China as representative of the Third World. Given China’s aggression toward its smaller neighbours in the East China sea, India’s chances are looking good.
Such is the geopolitical reality. As reflected by the reaction of our allies. Rather than condemnation or outrage, all we are hearing is boilerplate statements expressing concern. Australian PM Anthony Albanese neglected to comment on the matter at all.
As for our closest friend, the U.S., it has called the allegations serious and called for a thorough investigation. It is unlikely, however, that it will stop wooing India. At the UN General Assembly, President Biden said the U.S. is strengthening its ties and praised the country as a force for good.
Canada is a third-rate power which means we depend on our bigger friends for muscle while we must depend primarily on soft power in our own efforts. According to Christopher Sands, director of the Canada Institute, “Right now we’re seeing a hard power moment. That is not the environment where Canada shines. The decisive stuff is all force, power and money, which Canada doesn’t have.
Furthermore, our prime minister isn’t exactly at the height of his influence. At home he has a disapproval rating of a dismal 63 percent, and abroad he has lost much of his initial lustre. And then there’s the humiliating debacle of our parliamentarians honouring a Nazi in the House of Commons—this will not gain us support.
So it’s a war of words, diplomatic expulsions, travel advisories and a suspension of visa services for Canadians seeking to travel to India. Nonetheless, the investigation must continue and eventually be publicized. Both Canadians and Indians deserve to know the truth.
I am left with one last question. What is our government’s policy toward extrajudicial killings? After all, our friends do them all the time. Both the United States and Israel are notorious for knocking off individuals they take offence at. And not just terrorists. The CIA assassinated a general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Mossad targets Iranian scientists.
I don’t remember our government’s reaction to these killings. Does it approve of assassinating perceived bad guys? If so, how bad must they be? And on whose say-so? Or is it categorically opposed to this sort of deadly mischief? I’d be interested in knowing which it is.