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Canada and India Enhance Air Travel Agreement, Trudeau Assures Sikh Community

ANM Desk

Canada has negotiated a “new agreement” with India to add more flights and routes between the two countries, announced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the Khalsa Day Parade in downtown Toronto. Trudeau’s remarks aimed to address the desires of many Canadians to connect more frequently with loved ones in India.

Trudeau expressed the Canadian government’s commitment to facilitating increased air travel between Canada and India. The proposed agreement aims to add more flights and routes, with special consideration given to a direct flight to Amritsar, a city significant to the Sikh community. This announcement came amidst a backdrop of pro-Khalistan slogans being raised during the event.


Expansion of Air Travel Agreement

In November 2022, Canada and India reached an open skies agreement, permitting designated airlines to operate an unlimited number of flights between the two nations. This landmark agreement superseded previous restrictions, which limited designated carriers to just 35 weekly flights between Canada and India. The Canadian government hailed this move as a significant step towards meeting the growing demand in the Canada-India air transport market. However, details regarding recent discussions on further expanding the pact remain unclear.

Currently, Air India operates 10 weekly flights to Toronto and 7 to Vancouver from Delhi. Additionally, Air Canada also offers services to India. Pierre Poilievre, leader of the Official Opposition of Canada, has voiced support for a direct flight to Amritsar. This echoes sentiments within the Sikh community.


Trudeau’s Commitment to Sikh Rights

In his address, Trudeau reiterated his commitment to safeguarding the rights and freedoms of Sikhs in Canada. He pledged to defend the community against hatred and discrimination, emphasizing the government’s dedication to enhancing security measures at Sikh community centers and places of worship.

Trudeau’s assurances come in the wake of strained relations between India and Canada. These tensions stemmed from allegations made by Trudeau regarding Indian involvement in the killing of a Sikh separatist. India has vehemently denied these allegations, labeling them as “absurd and motivated.” The incident has contributed to existing tensions, with India accusing Canada of harboring Sikh separatists.


Celebrating Sikh Heritage

The Khalsa Day Parade in downtown Toronto attracted thousands of attendees, commemorating Vaisakhi, also known as Khalsa Day. This occasion marks the Sikh New Year and celebrates the establishment of the Sikh community in 1699, according to the Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwaras Council (OSGC).

Trudeau acknowledged the significance of April as Sikh Heritage Month, highlighting Canada’s distinction as the first country to officially recognize this month. He praised the remarkable contributions of Sikh Canadians across various fields, underscoring their integral role in shaping Canada’s history and identity.

As Trudeau concluded his speech with a traditional Sikh greeting, “Waheguru ji ka khalsa Waheguru ji ki fateh,” he reaffirmed his government’s unwavering support for the Sikh community. Trudeau’s presence, accompanied by four Cabinet ministers, underscored the importance of fostering inclusivity and understanding within Canada’s diverse cultural landscape.

Despite recent diplomatic tensions, Trudeau’s assurances signal a commitment to strengthening ties between Canada and India. He also emphasized upholding the rights and freedoms of all Canadians, including those of Sikh heritage.

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