Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s visit to India’s capital was unexpectedly prolonged by two days due to a mechanical issue with his aircraft. The incident came after a tense meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and amid growing strains in Canada-India relations.
Mr. Trudeau was initially scheduled to depart on Sunday (10) following the G20 summit‘s conclusion, but his departure was delayed due to an embarrassing mechanical snag that grounded his plane. This delay prompted mockery from opponents at home and on Indian social media.
Canada-India relations had been strained in recent months, exacerbated by protests by Canada’s sizable Sikh population and India’s concerns about Sikh separatist activities. Notably, India denied any involvement in the murder of a prominent advocate of Sikh independence in British Columbia in June.
During their meeting, Prime Minister Modi expressed concerns about “continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada,” which he believed were promoting secessionism and inciting violence. Mr. Trudeau’s team, in turn, emphasized the importance of respecting the rule of law, democratic principles, and national sovereignty.
Mr. Trudeau also discussed foreign interference in Canada’s affairs with Mr. Modi and included India in Canada’s investigation into election interference, which also encompasses China and Russia.
Some eyebrows were raised when Mr. Trudeau did not attend a weekend dinner for world leaders hosted by Indian President Droupadi Murmu, with reports suggesting no reason was given. Additionally, his quick withdrawal from a handshake with Mr. Modi garnered attention.
During the unexpected extension of his visit, it remained unclear how Mr. Trudeau spent his time, with no further diplomatic engagements reported. The Canadian Department of National Defence stated that the aircraft, a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CC-150 Polaris, had suffered a “maintenance problem” that required replacing a component. A replacement aircraft was dispatched to India to retrieve Mr. Trudeau.
It’s worth noting that this incident is not the first time Mr. Trudeau has encountered aircraft-related travel issues, as a plane carrying journalists collided with an aircraft chartered for his campaign trail in 2019, although he was not onboard during that incident.
The CC-150 Polaris plane is part of an older fleet set to be replaced soon and has faced occasional mechanical issues. Neither Mr. Trudeau nor the Indian government publicly commented on the delay in his return home, but an Indian minister wished him and his entourage a safe trip back on behalf of Mr. Modi’s government.