Toronto: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally left New Delhi after a technical snag that had grounded his aircraft was resolved and the plane considered airworthy.
Trudeau, who was in India for the G20, was originally scheduled to depart on Sunday night, but concerns over a part forced him to remain for an additional day-and-a-half. The problem with the aircraft was resolved hours after a technician with a spare part arrived in Delhi.
Earlier, a Royal Canadian Air Force’s CC-150 Polaris was despatched to Delhi after a technical snag with the original flight prevented Trudeau from leaving as scheduled.
Earlier, a replacement plane, according to a report from the outlet CBC News, was diverted from London, though it was originally supposed to be routed through Rome. No reason was provided for the diversion.
The aircraft currently being used by Trudeau is 36 years old and has caused problems earlier. In October 2016, it returned to Ottawa half an hour after taking off. Trudeau was then travelling to Belgium.
That plane was out of service for 16 months and a backup was grounded in London in December 2019 when Trudeau was there for a NATO summit.
Trudeau’s principal political opponent, leader of the Conservative Party Pierre Poilievre took advantage of the embarrassment for the PM, as he tweeted, “Now Trudeau gets to experience the same flight delays he has imposed on Canadians through his mismanagement of federal airports.”
Earlier, in another tongue-in-cheek video post, he said, “There’s a little turbulence on the horizon. But a new crew is on the way for the country we know and love. Let’s bring it home.” The reference obviously was to a potential change in government in the 2025 elections, with the ruling Liberal Party trailing the Conservatives in recent polls by double digit margins.
Trudeau stayed in his room in New Delhi’s Lalit Hotel after his Airbus plane developed the snag amid frosty India-Canada ties. India issued a tersely worded statement expressing “strong concerns about continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada” on Sunday before secessionist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) arranged a “Khalistan referendum” at a gurdwara in British Columbia.
The referendum was held hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed to Trudeau strong concerns about anti-India elements promoting secessionism from Canadian soil and inciting violence against diplomats.
The exercise was conducted at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, which SFJ leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar headed before he was gunned down on June 18. It was the latest in a string of moves in Canada that have hurt bilateral relations.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, founder of the banned SFJ and a designated terrorist, was present at the referendum.
During a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi on Sunday, Modi told Trudeau that mutual respect and trust are essential for progress in bilateral ties.
Extremists have held rallies in support of Khalistan in Canada and targeted Indian diplomatic facilities and officials. A float at a rally eulogised the assassins of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.