The invitation arrived in the form of an ill-informed and error-riddled article published by the NDP-supported Broadbent Institute which was then promoted by NDP operatives on Twitter. The article mounts a meandering attack on MLI’s recent paper on the Khalistan movement and Canada’s national interests as well as on the reputation of the Institute and several people associated with it.
The unnamed author of the article professes surprise that MLI would take an interest in this issue, implying that it is far from our usual preoccupations. We regret that, despite MLI’s best communications efforts and the high profile our work has achieved in the Canadian media, the NDP is apparently unaware of the long-time existence of our Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad (CACIA) and of the Centre’s sterling reputation as a strong advocate for and defender of Canada’s national interests including on topics as vital as NATO’s relationship with Russia, Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East or the rise of China and the attendant conflicts arising in the Indo-Pacific.
On the specific issue of Khalistani extremism and the subject of MLI’s recent report, as we told the Broadbent Institute’s researcher:
MLI has an interest in this topic because it is an important subject for our foreign affairs and security policy… Given that Khalistani extremism remains a threat to Canada’s security, and given that Canada’s response to such extremism remains a challenge for the Canada-India relationship, this topic is in the national interest and is therefore within the scope of what MLI is interested in discussing. The ties between Khalistani extremism and Pakistan are important, and disclosing these ties helps provide context for this important security challenge facing Canada.
This is not an outdated or obscure topic, as the author of the NDP’s article seems to believe, but a live issue that is causing serious harm to relations with one of the most important countries of the world. It is an issue that is costing Canadian businesses, and preventing this country from having a more productive role in the vital Indo-Pacific region.
MLI is perplexed by the NDP’s attempts to make our report into a partisan issue. The co-authors of the foreword of the MLI report in question are a former NDP premier (and Liberal health minster) and a former advisor to Conservative foreign ministers. The author is a respected long time CBC journalist. What’s more, the relationship between MLI and the Observer Research Foundation, our valued partner think tank in India, also critiqued in the Broadbent Institute article, was in fact announced as a significant achievement of the current Prime Minister’s visit to India in February, 2018.
The suggestion (also contained in the article) that our report is somehow an attack on the Sikh community generally shows that the NDP and Broadbent Institute haven’t even read the report that they are so keen to denounce. If they had, they would understand that it is a critique of militant extremism and an exploration of the foreign interests behind them, not an attack on people of Sikh faith.
This is, of course, a topic that is challenging for some to discuss, particularly when critics will insist on engaging in such overtly bad-faith arguments against anyone who fails to toe the line. Perhaps the NDP was heartened to see that such criticisms have in the recent past managed to intimidate the federal government into censoring a report by security officials warning of the danger of Khalistani extremism in Canada (although the substance of the report remained the same). Canadians who care about protecting this country’s security, trade and foreign policy interests will, we think, be pleased to know that we will not be similarly intimidated.
No matter what the NDP says, the fact that a foreign government (Pakistan) is actively promoting and financing an extremist fringe Khalistan movement in Canada and elsewhere in an effort to damage the interests of both Canada and our friend, partner and fellow democracy India is a vital issue affecting this country’s security, prosperity and foreign relations and should be an issue that rises above mere partisan squabbling. We intend to keep saying so.
For more information related to MLI’s work on Canada-India relations, or Canada’s interest in exporting energy to Indo-Pacific partners, or security issues facing Canada, check out this short list of just some of what we and our authors have published in the last 10 years: