Two months after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh snubbed the Canadian government by refusing to meet its defence minister of Indian origin Harjit Singh Sajjan and not even according him state reception during his visit to Punjab, the CM on Saturday attempted to mend fences with Canada by congratulating the country on its 150th national day. In a statement issued on Saturday, Amarinder called 150th Canada day as a “historical moment in the country’s progressive journey, to which the Punjabi and Indian community has significantly contributed.”
In a message to the people of Canada, the CM said the enactment of Canada’s Constitution Act on July 1, 1867, laid the foundation for the emergence of one of the brightest stars on the global landscape. Amarinder had refused a meeting with Sajjan in April-end, while dubbing him a “Khalistani.” This had angered a number of NRIs. Amarinder was upset as an organisation Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) had blocked his entry to Canada prior to Assembly elections. Amarinder had written a protest letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau then.
However, the CM extended special greetings to Indian diaspora in Canada, saying they were an integral part of the Western nation’s progress and well respected the world over for their dedicated hard work which had contributed significantly to the development of the country.
Acknowledging that the roots of Punjabi and Sikh NRI community settled in Canada continued to be deeply embedded in Punjab, the CM said they were welcome to come back to their native land whenever they wanted to. They will be welcomed here with open arms, he said, adding that his government would ensure that the NRIs are facilitated in setting up business or otherwise getting re-integrated into Punjab in case they choose to return.
After Amarinder’s cold shoulder to Sajjan, a general sentiment in Congress was of displeasure. With Punjab’s coffers empty when the state was scraping its barrel to pay salaries, the government was finding it difficult to organise resources for farm debt waiver. Many party leaders were of the view that by cold-shouldering Sajjan, Amarinder had lost an opportunity of having business ties with not only Canada but also the NRIs, who could have bailed the farmers out of debt crisis.