Canada’s public safety minister, Dominic LeBlanc, reassured members of the Hindu community that they should not feel threatened by the video posted online by the organisation Sikhs for Justice, which urged them to “go back to India”.
The video was widely shared amid a fierce diplomatic row that began after Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said there were “credible allegations” that the Indian government had been involved in the murder of Canadian Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India denied the suggestion, describing it as “absurd”, and has since suspended visa services for Canadians, citing “security threats” to its embassy and consulates in Canada.
Though he did not name Sikhs for Justice directly, Mr LeBlanc strongly criticised the organisation’s video, which after several days has now been taken down. “All Canadians deserve to feel safe in their communities,” Mr LeBlanc wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“The circulation of an online hate video targeting Hindu Canadians contradicts the values we hold dear as Canadians,” he continued. “There is no place for acts of aggression, hate, intimidation, or incitement of fear.”
Public Safety Canada called the video “offensive and hateful”.
“Acts of aggression, hate, intimidation or incitement of fear have no place in this country and only serve to divide us,” the department said in a separate post on X.
“We urge all Canadians to respect one another and follow the rule of law. Canadians deserve to feel safe in their communities.”
Pierre Poilievre, the leader of Canada’s main opposition Conservative Party, said that hateful comments “targeting Hindus in Canada” have been on the rise in recent days.
“Every Canadian deserves to live without fear and feel welcomed in their community. In recent days, we have seen hateful comments targeting Hindus in Canada,” he wrote on X.
“Conservatives condemn these comments against our Hindu neighbours and friends. Hindus have made invaluable contributions to every part of our country and will always be welcome here.”
And Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party, also tweeted a message in support of the community.
“To Hindus across Canada. This is your home and you deserve to be here,” Mr Singh wrote. “Anyone that suggests otherwise does not reflect the values of inclusion, compassion and kindness we hold close as Canadians.”
“To Hindu Canadians & and Indians from all backgrounds: Anyone who says you do not deserve to be safe & welcomed in your home does not embody the values of freedom & kindness we hold dear as Canadians,” wrote Harjit Sajjan, an MP representing Vancouver South.
“Do not let others delegitimise or question your place and love for Canada.”
None of the politicians condemning the video called out Sikhs for Justice directly. The group is among the most prominent among those who support the idea that an independent Sikh state called Khalistan should be carved out of India’s state of Punjab.
The video calling on Hindus to “go back to India” was presented by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a lawyer based in New York. He accused Hindus in Canada of “working against” the country while simultaneously benefiting from it economically.
Nijjar, the Sikh leader killed in Canada in June, was also an outspoken supporter of the Khalistan movement. India had designated him a wanted terrorist and accused him of leading and recruiting for a militant organisation – charges he and his supporters strongly denied.
His death has led to a diplomatic row between India and Canada after the Trudeau government said it had received intelligence – reportedly from another member of the Five Eyes alliance – that Indian government agents were responsible for the killing.
Mr Trudeau confronted India’s prime minister Narendra Modi over the case on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Delhi earlier this month, but India’s foreign ministry said the allegation was “rejected”.
The Canadian prime minister then made the allegation public in an extraordinary statement to parliament, and expelled an Indian diplomat, who was reportedly the head of the intelligence wing of the Indian High Commission in Ottawa.
India has since expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in turn, and formally requested that the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi be downsized, citing a lack of “parity” between the two countries’ missions as well as concerns over what it called “anti-India activities”.