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Canadian PM Justin Trudeau rebuffs calls for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s Resignation

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Justin Trudeau attended the Tamil Fest organized in Toronto. Wikimedia
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Ottawa, May 2, 2017: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rebuffed resignation calls for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan over his “architect comments for a 2006 offensive against the Taliban, media reports said.

Trudeau and his embattled minister endured a withering question-period offensive on Monday as opposition MPs accused Sajjan of “stolen valour” for overstating his role in planning Operation Medusa in Afghanistan, The Toronto Star.

Opposition parties trained their sights squarely on Sajjan, who apologised again in the House of Commons.

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The Operation Medusa was one of the bloodiest and most pivotal battles of the Afghan war.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose called it a “cardinal sin” in the military circles for stealing valours of others.

“How much more does the Prime Minister need to hear before he understands why our men and women in uniform have lost confidence in the Minister,” Ambrose said.

Trudeau, however, would not be moved from his talking points.

“The Minister made a mistake,” the Prime Minister said repeatedly. “He acknowledged his responsibility and apologised for it; that’s what Canadians expect when one makes a mistake,” The Toronto Sun reported.

Trudeau went on to insist that Sajjan had served his country with distinction in a number of capacities, including as a police officer and as a soldier. As a Minister, he added, “He has my full confidence.”

Sajjan, for his part, later rose and repeated his apology.

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What Sajjan didn’t do is explain his “mistake,” which Ambrose noted he’d made twice – once in 2015 and again two weeks ago during his India visit.

As such, his apology did little to assuage the opposition, with both the Conservatives and the Democratics calling on Trudeau to sack him.

“It’s not an error when you keep repeating the same lie,” New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair said after question period.

In speech in New Delhi on April 18, Sajjan told the Indian think tank Observer Research Foundation that he had been the “architect” of Operation Medusa, which the Minister has since retracted.

“On my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was kind of thrown in an unforeseen situation and became the architect of an operation… where we removed about 1,500 Taliban fighters,” Sajjan said in his speech.

Sajjan was a Major with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan during Operation Medusa, and received a special commendation.

Hundreds of Taliban fighters were killed or captured over a two-week period. Twelve Canadians were also killed in the fighting. (IANS)

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India, Canada Pledge To Fight Terrorism In All Forms

Modi and Trudeau also welcomed the agreement on a bilateral Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism that was signed between the two countries

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India Canada pledges to fight terrorism of all kinds together. Facebook
India Canada pledges to fight terrorism of all kinds together. Facebook
  • India and Canada pledged to fight terrorism in all its forms
  • Modi and Trudeau also agreed on the Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism
  • Both the countries are looking forward to a cooperative future

India and Canada on Friday pledged to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations while declaring that no country should allow its territory to be used for terrorist and violent extremist activities.

The assertion by the two countries came in a joint statement issued after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau and assumes significance in the context of perceived softness on the part of Canada towards Khalistani separatists operating on its soil.

India and Canada pledged to fight terrorism together. www.affairscloud.com
India and Canada pledged to fight terrorism together. www.affairscloud.com

“Recognising that terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation to violence present acute challenges to global peace, stability and prosperity, the leaders resolved to combat terrorism and violent extremism in all their forms and manifestations,” the joint statement said.

“They called for bringing terrorists to justice and holding accountable state sponsors of terrorism, including cross-border terrorism. They further emphasised that no country should allow its territory to be used for terrorist and violent extremist activities.”

Modi and Trudeau also welcomed the agreement on a bilateral Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism that was signed between the two countries.

The Framework recognised the urgent imperative to disrupt recruitment, terrorist movements and the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, address the threat posed by cross-border and state-sponsored terrorism, stop sources of terrorist financing, dismantle terrorist infrastructure and prevent the supply of arms to terrorists and counter violent extremism and radicalisation to violence.

The two sides emphasised the need to deny operating space to terrorist and violent extremist groups.

Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism was signed between the two countries. Wikimedia Commons
Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism was signed between the two countries. Wikimedia Commons

Under the Framework, both sides committed to further develop exchanges and facilitate effective cooperation in the fields of security, finance, justice, and law enforcement, including, where appropriate, at the operational level.

Also Read: ‘Vanakkam!’ Tweets Canadian PM: Justin Trudeau Joins over 200,000 People at the Biggest Tamil Diaspora Festival in Toronto

It consists of institutionalised cooperation between the National Security Council Secretariat of India and the office of Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Advisor, and regular exchanges and coordination between India and Canada, which will be guided by the joint National Security Advisors’ Dialogue.

The joint statement further said that to reaffirm the importance of lawful commerce and the freedom of navigation and over-flight throughout the Indo-Pacific region, in accordance with international law, including the rights and jurisdiction of states under UN Convention for Law of the Sea (Unclos), the two leaders supported bolstering regional connectivity through transparent development of infrastructure and use of responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law and environment.

Modi and Trudeau also expressed “strong concern” over the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan and the recent political developments in the Maldives and their implications for free society.

The Two Countries will work together towards peace.
The Two Countries will work together towards peace.

On the economic side, both leaders agreed to realise the full potential of bilateral trade and investment and both sides will renew efforts to expand and diversify bilateral economic and commercial relations.

“They will also intensify negotiations to finalise a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and a Bilateral Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement,” the statement said. Modi and Trudeau also agreed to strengthen bilateral and international cooperation to address climate change and secure a clean energy future and committed to promoting the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“The leaders welcomed the initiative to establish the (India-initiated) International Solar Alliance to promote renewable energy for sustainable development,” the statement said. “They urged research institutions and industry in both countries to collaborate to promote greater use of solar technology.”

Also Read: India and Canada to Jointly Issue Two Sets of Diwali Themed Postal Stamps

It stated that the two leaders “underscored the importance of accelerating the global transition to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy sources and acknowledged that renewable energy is a pathway to a low-carbon and more sustainable energy system”.

“Recognising the dynamic role of people-to-people ties in the India-Canada partnership, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to address consular issues of mutual concern through discussion between the concerned officials,” the statement said. “They welcomed the expansion of direct air connectivity between Indian and Canadian cities.” IANS