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The invitation to Jaspal Atwal to a reception with Trudeau in New Delhi was withdrawn after Canadian security officials were tipped off to his identity, though a Canadian official told reporters he posed no security risk, just a reputational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

7 Mile Landfill operations tender closes October

Taxes covering the landfill have not increased over the past 15 years and are not expected to soon.

NorthIsle starts drilling in Pemberton Hills area after negotiating deal with Freeport

Mining industry one step closer to a revitalization after farm-out agreement

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Port Hardy Fire Rescue’s open house a blazing hit

PHFR Lt. Harding explained that the organization is always looking for more recruits.

Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nation drafts first phase of passive housing project

The housing project will have 96 residential units for low-income families.

VIDEO: First legal cannabis purchases as midnight strikes in eastern Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador was the first province to kick off the sale of cannabis, just after midnight local time

Boeser tallies in OT as Canucks beat Penguins 3-2

Vancouver wins without star rookie Pettersson

Mayor of Kamloops says ‘history has been made’ with vote on B.C.’s lone pot shop

The store to be run by the province in B.C.’s Interior is opening Wednesday as pot sales become legal across Canada

New bus route to ‘replace’ Greyhound along Trans-Canada Highway

Rider Express Transportation says they will soon begin a bus service from Winnipeg to Vancouver

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

Government says imprisoned Canadian terror suspects must face consequences

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale showed little sympathy Tuesday for such individuals who now want to return to Canada

How rules for inmate segregation in Canada will change under Bill C-83

Federal government proposing changes to rules around inmates in federal correctional institutions

Canada Post union issues strike notice; rotating strikes could begin Monday

Union says rotating strikes will begin if agreements aren’t reached with bargaining units

Duncan play faces challenges even before first performance as thieves strike

Thefts hamper Deathtrap days before opening at Mercury Theatre

Most Read