Current News: Canada has significantly reduced its diplomatic presence in India in response to New Delhi’s threat to strip diplomatic immunities from Canadian diplomats and their families. The move has been described as a response to a “precedent-setting” threat that would have made it unsafe for diplomats to stay in India. This development has led to a temporary suspension of in-person consular services in several Indian cities, including Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Bangalore, impacting immigration applications and services.
The dispute began when India threatened to revoke diplomatic privileges and immunities for Canadian diplomats starting on a specified date. In response, Canada directed 41 diplomats and their 42 dependents to leave India, leaving only 21 diplomats in the country.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly emphasized that such a unilateral revocation of diplomatic privileges is contrary to international law and a violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.
Canada’s high commission in New Delhi remains operational, but with reduced staffing levels, which will affect the processing of visas and permits. Immigration Minister Marc Miller noted that delays are expected in processing applications from India due to the lower staff levels.
Canadian intelligence services
The strained diplomatic relations between Canada and India stem from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement a month ago that Canadian intelligence services were investigating a potential link between the Indian government and the killing of a Sikh leader in British Columbia. The current state of diplomatic conversations between the two countries remains unclear, as Minister Joly emphasized the importance of keeping diplomatic matters private.
One of the most affected departments in Canada is Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, which lost 22 Canadian staff in India. As a result, there will likely be a backlog of approximately 17,500 final decisions in global operations by the end of the year. However, the department plans to hire additional local staff in India to address the situation.
While political counsellors, trade commissioners, and consular officials who assist Canadians in distress remain in India, employees from various Canadian government agencies, including the Canada Border Services Agency, the RCMP, the Department of National Defence, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, have departed from India.
The ongoing dispute underscores the importance of diplomatic relations and the potential impact on services such as immigration applications and consular services. The current situation may evolve as diplomatic news between Canada and India continue.