The Impact of the Canada-India Row on Western Nations

The diplomatic row between Canada and India has sparked concerns among Western nations about its potential impact on international relationships. Western powers, including the United States, are eager to avoid any division between them and India, recognizing India’s significance as a growing power and potential counterbalance to China. The G20 meeting held in India recently served as a clear example of Western nations’ efforts to maintain their relationship with India, as they avoided condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine to protect their ties with India.

Western diplomats are also wary of other countries taking sides in the Canada-India dispute. India has been positioning itself as a leader among developing countries, often referred to as the Global South, which have refrained from condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The US and some European countries have been actively engaging with these nations, emphasizing how the conflict in Ukraine directly affects them and their economies. Therefore, any perception that this row is a North versus South battle or a clash between a transatlantic power and a developing nation could disrupt Western nations’ diplomatic efforts.

Canada’s allies, such as the US and the UK, have expressed their concern about the allegations made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding India’s involvement in the assassination of a Sikh activist in western Canada. While they remain loyal to Canada, they are also cautious in their approach. The US has stressed the importance of Canada’s investigation proceeding and the perpetrators being brought to justice. The UK, which has a sizable Sikh community, has stated that it takes Canada’s concerns seriously and will carefully consider further action after the investigation is complete.

Australia, another ally of Canada, has conveyed its deep concern to India at the senior levels. Given that Australia also has a significant Sikh community, there is a real possibility of domestic political consequences arising from this diplomatic row. The UK and Australia, like Canada, are members of the Commonwealth, which adds a layer of complexity to this dispute.

Therefore, Western nations will closely monitor the progress of the investigation. If solid evidence regarding India’s involvement emerges, Western powers would face a difficult choice between supporting Canada based on the principle of the rule of law or prioritizing realpolitik. In the past, Western nations have condemned extraterritorial assassinations conducted by countries like Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Consequently, they would not want to see India added to that list.

The ramifications of this row extend beyond bilateral relations between Canada and India. Western nations must navigate a delicate balance to safeguard their existing international relationships, avoid division, and prevent other countries from taking sides. The position taken by Western powers will depend on the outcome of the investigation and the evidence presented. Regardless, this dispute reinforces India’s significance as a key player on the geopolitical chessboard and underscores the complexities of maintaining diplomatic ties in a rapidly changing global landscape.