At the recent G20 summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada championed a rule-of-law agenda, including a pointed discussion with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on instances of foreign interference and aggressive assertion against Russia’s violation on Ukraine.
As the two-day summit in New Delhi drew to a close, it was Trudeau who stood out by unreservedly criticizing Moscow’s unlawful transgression on Ukraine. Interestingly, this language of indictment was absent from the final declaration issued by the G20 leaders. Their focus remained predominantly on the economic impact of President Vladimir Putin’s war – the imminent food and energy crisis, not the mounting casualties.
Trudeau, being one of the G20’s longest-serving leaders, expressed his preference for a more strongly worded communique. “People like Putin mistake being reasonable for being weak. He is dead wrong and Canada will continue to support Ukraine with whatever it takes, as long as it takes,” Trudeau commented on Sunday.
The G20 leaders urged for the recommencement of grain, foodstuff, and fertilizer shipments from both Russia and Ukraine, emphasizing the urgency to support countries in Africa and other developing regions battling food scarcity. The final communique also highlighted gender equality, counter-terrorism measures, money laundering, as well as advancements in digital technology and green infrastructure.
Trudeau’s visit to the G20 summit marked the culmination of his six-day business tour of the Indo-Pacific region, where he advocated on behalf of Canadian businesses and products, whilst faciliating strategic partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Although a sudden mechanical failure in his plane prolonged Trudeau’s stay in India, the prime minister was scheduled to return to Ottawa on Monday.
Indian Prime Minister Modi’s focus for this year’s G20 summit was on the Global South. Consequently, the African Union was granted permanent membership. On Sunday, Trudeau engaged in a cordial conversation with union chairperson Azali Assoumani, formalizing a pledge to support Morocco following the recent catastrophic earthquake.
Trudeau reiterated his commitment to aiding the global south by pledging upwards of $137 million to help developing countries. This financial aid will be directed towards climate change projects in sub-Saharan Africa, developing agricultural value chains in Bolivia, supporting women-led agricultural enterprises in Nigeria, enhancing food security in Congo, and improving nutrition in Burkina Faso.
Despite the visible diplomatic strain between Canada and India due to Canada’s Sikh separatist movement in Punjab, Modi took pride in introducing himself as the president of “Bharat”, an ancient Sanskrit name that gained popularity as the summit neared.
Amid these strained diplomatic relations, Trudeau acknowledged a brief meeting with Modi where both leaders raised the topic of foreign interference. Trudeau emphasized the importance of respecting the rule of law, the integrity of democratic institutions, and the individual rights of the citizens of a country to determine their future. Modi, in his turn, expressed his concerns about anti-India activities in Canada, leading to violence and impending upon Indian community’s security.
At the conference, Trudeau maintained Canada’s commitment to safeguard the freedom of expression and peaceful protests, while standing firmly against violence and hatred.
During a wreath laying ceremony, a brief moment unfolded when Trudeau withdrew his hand as Modi reached out for a handshake. This incident followed Trudeau’s absence at the leaders’ dinner hosted by Modi and his missing out on the launch of the Global Biofuels Alliance.
Wrapping up at the summit, Trudeau ensured inclusion of language surrounding gender and Indigenous reflections in the final communique while reiterating Canada’s continued efforts towards inclusive economic growth, opportunity creation, and enhanced security at global forums.