Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday rejected claims that he raised the issue of separatism in Quebec with Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, said media reports.
On 21 February, Singh’s media adviser, Raveen Thukral had said that Trudeau cited a separatist movement in the Canadian province of Quebec and told his host that he had dealt with such threats and was fully aware of the dangers of violence.
According to The Times of India report, Trudeau, in his interaction with the Canadian media in New Delhi on Saturday, however, said, "The reports are false. I said nothing of the sort. On the contrary, I have always said I'm very proud of the lessons that Canada and Quebec have to share on differences of opinion shared in peaceful ways and pluralism and diversity that is positive for our community."
Before Trudeau’s denial, a Canadian government source, according to Montreal Gazette, told the Presse Canadienne, a national news agency, that while he "spoke about Quebec" to Singh, "in no case did he draw a comparison between the Sikh and Quebec independence movements, especially not about violence".
The comments attributed by Thukral to Trudeau have sent shock waves through Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking province in eastern Canada which has been asking for independence.
"To identify the current Quebec independence movement with violence is false and disrespectful to millions of Quebecers," Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée was quoted as saying by Montreal Gazette.
Trudeau in his visit with Singh had also asserted that Canada believes in united India and assured Punjab chief minister that it did not support "any separatist movement in India or elsewhere", The Hindu had reported.
According to Reuters, a list of suspected Sikh separatists in Canada was handed to Trudeau during the meeting.
Canada is home to an influential Sikh community and Indian leaders say there are some fringe groups in the country that are still sympathetic to the cause of Khalistan, the report added.
Trudeau's first bilateral visit to India was hit by a controversy over the dinner invitation to convicted Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal by the Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Feb 25, 2018 10:40:55 IST