Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and children, Xavier, 10, Ella-Grace, 9, and Hadrien, 3, visit the Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Feb. 22. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Trudeau ends troubled India trip in his comfort zone of hockey and youth

The players, 18-25, came to New Delhi from Ladakhi in northern India, as part of outreach program

When the going for a Canadian prime minister gets tough, he turns to hockey.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau capped off a difficult state visit to India Saturday with a ball hockey game at the Canadian High Commission with India’s national women’s ice hockey team.

The players, aged 18-25, came to New Delhi from Ladakhi in northern India, as part of an outreach program involving former Canadian team captain Hayley Wickenheiser. They were joined on a tennis court at the high commission’s compound by Trudeau’s oldest son, Xavier, 10, who is himself a budding hockey player at home.

As Xavier raced around the court chasing the ball with the best female hockey players in India with his parents looking on and cheering, the tension of the last several days was lifting.

Gone were all signs of the Indian clothing that have been part of the criticism the Trudeau family has received during this trip, replaced by casual business attire for the adults and shorts and T-shirts for the kids.

READ MORE: Surrey MP invites convicted terrorist to Trudeau reception in India

READ MORE: Internet questions PM’s fashion choices in India

Diskit Angmo, one of the members of the Indian team, said the only reason ice hockey exists in India is because of support from Canada and she was thrilled to meet Trudeau and his family.

“Meeting the prime minister is seriously, like I said, a dream come true,” said Angmo.

Among the delegation from Canada, there was a sense of relief that the trip was not entirely a write off, with positive coverage in the Indian press about Trudeau’s meeting Friday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Indian media moved on from headlines screaming about the embarrassment of Canada having invited to two receptions in India, a man convicted of attempting to kill an Indian politician three decades ago.

The invitation to Jaspal Atwal to a reception with Trudeau in New Delhi was withdrawn after Canadian security officials were tipped off to his identity, though a Canadian official told reporters he posed no security risk, just a reputational one. Liberal MP Randeep Sarai, who put Atwal’s name on the guest list, flies home knowing he faces a meeting with Trudeau in Ottawa next week where his mistake will be discussed.

A framework agreement to fight extremism and terrorism marked the first time Canada has mentioned Sikh extremist groups in an agreement with India, a fact some Indian media said pulled the entire trip “back from the brink.”

But Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was less forgiving, calling the trip “a total failure” in a tweet.

Snigdha Basu, a correspondent for Indian NDTV, said the Atwal incident was just as embarrassing for India, which is still looking to explain how it was that Atwal was suddenly removed last year from a black list of Sikh militants barred from entering India, a list he had been on since the 1980s.

The agreement was actually finalized by the national security advisors in both countries before Trudeau arrived in India and pledges both countries to work on disrupting recruitment by terrorist groups, as well as the flow of terrorist fighters, financing and the supply of weapons. It specifically names several terrorist groups including Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation, both Sikh separatist extremist organizations.

The latter is the organization to which Jaspal Atwal was affiliated.

Trudeau heads home pledging to reflect on this visit, as they do with all, but believing overall it was excellent and proved Canada-India relations are strong.

Despite some critics saying Trudeau was snubbed by Modi, who didn’t publicly acknowledge Trudeau’s visit until five days after he arrived in India, the red carpet was rolled out in many corners of the country. Governments in both Punjab and Gujarat erected billboards all over the cities of Ahmedebad and Amritsar welcoming the Canadian prime minister, and thousands of Sikhs showed up to the Golden Temple to witness Trudeau’s visit there.

Modi’s minister of food processing said Thursday she hoped Trudeau would come back for a longer visit next time, adding that Canada is beloved in India, particularly in Punjab, the state from which a majority of Indian Canadians hail.

The lingering feeling that this trip was not a success continues — one Indian foreign affairs writer called it a total disaster — but in his final event in New Delhi Saturday afternoon Trudeau resumed his rock star status. He was welcomed with a roar by 5,000 students at the United Nations Young Changemakers Conclave at Indira Gandhi stadium.

Trudeau, back in his comfort zone, told the students they are the leaders of today and are already changing the world.

“I don’t want anyone to tell you you are the leaders of tomorrow ever again,” he told them, to loud applause.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Langley centenarian: “getting old is for the birds”

Lillian Tuningley has lived in many communities around Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Quebec and Surrey students scrub and polish at Langley museum

A national exchange program includes a volunteer requirement. They opted to help the flight museum.

Letter: That other Langley letter writer should be censored

Township and City governance can’t be compared, one Langley resident writes.

Langley-based Giants receive awards, gear up for Friday playoffs

Ty Ronning walked away six different 2017-18 team awards.

VIDEOS: Langley university beats Castlegar to win first-ever league championship

Blue fans hope their support – literally painting themselves in blue – helped secure TWU’s victory.

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

VIDEO: ‘New wave’ of anti-pipeline protests return to Trans Mountain facility

About 100 demonstrators with Protect the Inlet marched to the Burnaby terminal Saturday

B.C. man to plead guilty in connection with hit-and-run that killed teen

Jason Gourlay charged with failure to stop at the scene of accident, attempting to obstruct justice

BCHL Today: Wenatchee Wild goaltenders a cause for concern

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read