Trudeau vows to protect the rights and freedoms of Sikhs in Canada at all costs
Pro-Khalistan slogans were raised both before and when the Canadian prime minister spoke at the annual Khalsa Day celebration in Toronto on April 28. Photo: X| @JustinTrudeau

Trudeau vows to protect the 'rights and freedoms' of Sikhs in Canada 'at all costs'

Addressing the annual Khalsa Day in Toronto, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to protect the rights of the Sikh community and improve security in Gurudwaras

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to protect the rights and freedom of his country’s large Sikh community in a speech that was marred by pro-Khalistan slogans.

"We gather here today to remember that one of Canada's greatest strengths is its diversity. We are strong, not in spite of our differences, but because of our differences,” he said at the annual Khalsa Day celebrations in Toronto on Sunday (April 28).

Sikh values

“But even as we look at these differences, we have to remember and get reminded on days such as this and every day, that Sikh values are Canadian values," media reports quoted him as saying.

"To the nearly 800,000 Canadians of Sikh heritage across this country, we will always be there to protect your rights and your freedoms, and we will always defend your community against hatred and discrimination," Trudeau said.

Khalistan slogans

Pro-Khalistan slogans were raised at the event both before and when the prime minister spoke. Thousands had gathered for one of the biggest yearly gatherings in Toronto, which is home to thousands of men and women of South Asian descent.

Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre, New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow were among those who attended the celebrations.

Gurudwara security

The Canadian leader said his government was adding more security to community centres and places of worship like the Sikh Gurdwaras.

"Your right to practice your religion freely and without intimidation is exactly that – a fundamental right, guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that we will always stand up and defend you for,” Trudeau said.

“We will stand with you. Once again on this wonderful day of celebrations, Happy Baisakhi! ‘Vaheguru ji ka khalsa Vaheguru ji ki fateh’," he said, ending his speech with the Sikh religious cry.

Nijjar’s killing

Canada is home to nearly, 800,000 Sikhs.

The killing of an India-designated terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in Canada last year sparked an ugly row between India and Canada after Trudeau alleged an Indian hand in the murder.

India denied the allegation and sharply reduced Canada’s diplomatic strength in the country.
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