Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has concluded his visit to India, which unexpectedly extended by two days due to an aircraft malfunction following the G20 summit. Originally scheduled to depart on Sunday after the G20 summit’s conclusion, an embarrassing mechanical issue kept him grounded.
This delay was met with mockery from his political opponents at home and Indian social media users, adding to the tensions that arose during his visit, including a tense meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Canada-India relations had been strained in recent months, and Trudeau’s visit did little to repair the frosty ties.
Days before arriving in Delhi, Trudeau surprised many by announcing the suspension of trade treaty talks between the two countries. A significant source of tension has been protests by Canada’s large Sikh population, as India expressed concerns about the activities of Sikh separatists, despite denying involvement in the murder of a prominent advocate of Sikh independence in British Columbia.
During his meeting with Trudeau, Prime Minister Modi voiced concerns about the “continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada,” accusing them of promoting secessionism and inciting violence. In response, Trudeau emphasized the importance of respecting the rule of law, democratic principles, and national sovereignty. He also discussed foreign interference in Canada’s affairs, including India’s inclusion in Canada’s investigation into election interference, alongside China and Russia.
Trudeau’s absence from a weekend dinner for world leaders hosted by Indian President Droupadi Murmu raised eyebrows, with reports suggesting his office did not provide a reason. Some observers also noted his quick withdrawal from a handshake with Mr. Modi.
Details about how Trudeau spent the additional two days in India remain unclear, with no further diplomatic engagements reported. However, media reports suggest he stayed at his hotel.
Both Trudeau and the Indian government have not publicly commented on the delay in his return home. Still, an Indian minister represented the Indian government in giving him an official send-off, wishing him and his entourage a safe trip back home.
On Monday, Canada’s Department of National Defence revealed that Mr. Trudeau’s aircraft, a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CC-150 Polaris with the tail number ’01,’ suffered a “maintenance problem” due to a “component that will have to be replaced.” They emphasized the importance of pre-flight safety checks for all passengers and noted that a replacement aircraft was being sent to India.
The Toronto Star reported that the RCAF sent a technician to India who successfully fixed the issue. It was mentioned that the CC-150 Polaris plane is part of an older fleet that has faced similar issues and is due for replacement.
This incident is not the first time Trudeau has faced travel issues related to his aircraft. In 2019, a plane carrying journalists collided with the wing of an aircraft chartered for his campaign trail transport, although he was not onboard at the time.