While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife, three children and a collection of Canadian cabinet ministers jaunt around India with Canadian taxpayers footing the bill, he’s drawing criticism from not only the Canadian media outlets, but those in India as well.
The Hindustan Times e-Paper in New Delhi noticed the prime minister has been doing very little work while he is in India.
“As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues his eight-day visit to India, the fact that his schedule includes just half-a-day of official engagements in New Delhi is being described as “unusual” by veteran diplomats and criticized by a Canadian watchdog,” reporter Anirudh Bhattacharyya wrote Monday. “A veteran Indian diplomat said in his long experience with bilateral visits, he had never experienced a trip of this nature, where the visiting dignitary spent so little time in official engagements with counterparts in the Indian government.”
“In addition, he said, it was equally surprising that six cabinet ministers accompanying Trudeau had scant official engagements, except for foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, who will confer with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj ahead of the meeting between the prime ministers in New Delhi on February 23,” the story continues. “The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity since he did not want to appear “churlish.”
So let’s ask the question again. Is this a business trip paid for by the taxpayers of Canada? Or is this another family vacation?
The list of vacations by this Canadian prime minister is unprecedented. Check out the long list here:
The New Delhi e-paper also noted:
“The low-key start to the visit on February 17 also raised eyebrows, with commentators noting that Trudeau was received at the Delhi airport by minister of state Gajendra Shekhawat.
“This, they noted, was in marked contrast to the warm welcome and hugs from Prime Minister Modi that marked the arrivals of US president Barack Obama, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“Commentators also noted that there had been no tweet from Modi’s official account welcoming Trudeau and that he had not accompanied the Canadian leader to his home state of Gujarat.
Reports have suggested that the Indian government is unhappy with Canada’s soft stance on Sikh radicals, who have increased pro-Khalitsan activities in recent years.”
The Times of India was equally perplexed with Trudeau’s visit.
“Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and their three children visited the Taj Mahal yesterday while Uttar Pradesh chief minister (Yogi) Adityanath was nowhere in sight,” the newspaper account reads.
“A scant month ago, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Taj, the UP CM personally showed him around. But all the Trudeaus got were the Agra district magistrate and some other local administrators.
“Many say that the Centre’s absence of pomp and ceremony is an indication of its displeasure with Trudeau for appointing Cabinet ministers with links allegedly to the Sikh separatist movement,” the report in the The Times of India continues. “Trudeau has four Sikh cabinet ministers – Harjit Sajjan, Amarjeet Sohi, Navdeep Bains and Bardish Chagger. Sohi said earlier this month that he’s neither sympathetic to nor against the Khalistan movement.
“If there is a small segment of people in Canada who talk about separation, who talk about the creation of Khalistan if they do that in a peaceful way that is their right to do so but this is not an issue that I hear in the community,” said Sohi.
It sounds as if Trudeau, his entourage and his family walked into a firestorm here they just didn’t expect. Even Canadian columnist Candice Malcolm took a shot at the prime minister.
“The world is noticing a strong Modi standing up for India and snubbing Trudeau,” she said on her Twitter page. “Trudeau must denounce Khalistani extremists while in India and apologize to Chief Minister Amarinder. And Jagmeet Singh should denounce Khalistani radicals. We must stand against terrorism.”
Another apology wanted? Oh my, what kind of mess has Trudeau and his collection of cabinet ministers walked into this time? This might not be such a glorious vacation at all. Maybe next time, Trudeau should leave the wife and kids at home and see if he can mend some fences here. Better yet, maybe there shouldn’t be a next time.
The list of international trips by this prime minister keeps growing and the list of accomplishments doesn’t seem to be doing the same thing.
Jeff Wilkinson is a Senior Politics Reporter at Debate Report covering provincial and national politics, . Before joining Debate Report, Jeff worked on several provincial campaigns including Jack Layton. Jeff has worked as a freelance journalist in Toronto, having been published by over 20 outlets including CBC, the Center for Media and VICE.com.