Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging India to take allegations that the country had a role in the death of a Canadian citizen seriously, after New Delhi called the claims "absurd and motivated."
Trudeau revealed in the House of Commons on Monday that Canadian intelligence services are investigating "credible" information about "a potential link" between India's government and the death of British Columbia Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Trudeau said India's government "needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness" but would not say whether it is co-operating.
"One of the things that is so important today is that India and the government of India take seriously this matter," Trudeau told reporters Tuesday on Parliament Hill.
"It is extremely serious and it has far-reaching consequences in international law."
Trudeau said he waited until he was able to raise the issue with allies and with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month before telling the public about the possible link.
"We wanted to make sure that we had a solid grounding in understanding what was going on in analysis and indeed in facts," Trudeau said.
"We wanted to make sure we were taking the time to talk with our allies, to share what we knew. We wanted to make sure that we fully shared with the government of India, the seriousness and the depths of our preoccupations and indeed conclusions."
On Monday,Ottawa ordered a senior Indian diplomat to leave Canada, and India responded by sending an unnamed Canadian diplomat packing, citing unspecified "interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities."
India's ministry of external affairs said it rejects Trudeau's accusations, arguing they mean to distract from Sikh separatists in Canada that New Delhi argue pose a security risk.
"The inaction of the Canadian government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern," reads a statement from the ministry.
A senior government source who is close to the prime minister said Trudeau was confident enough in the allegations that he opted to raise them directly with Modi in New Delhi.
The source, who was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the matter publicly, said Trudeau opted to share the news after to clear the air after mounting questions from the media and rumours in communities about India's involvement.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Trudeau ought to share more information about what led him to make his Monday statement in Parliament. He said the prime minister did not share more details with him than what he had said in the House of Commons.
"We need to see more facts. The prime minister hasn't provided any facts," he told reporters on Parliament Hill.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is in New York for events at the United Nations. Her office has not disclosed the name of the diplomat India has decided to expel. Joly said Monday that Canada's high commission has taken extra steps to protect its staff.
Nijjar was shot outside his gurdwara in Surrey, B.C., on June 18. Members of the Sikh community have accused the Indian government of being behind the killing and attempting to silence voices advocating for an independent Sikh country.
Trudeau said he does not want to make things worse for relations with India.
"We're going to follow the evidence and make sure that the work is done to hold people accountable," he said Tuesday.
"We are not looking to provoke or escalate. We are simply laying out the facts as we understand them, and we want to work with the government of India to lay everything clear."
Treasury Board President Anita Anand said it's "a very difficult time" for South Asians of any religion, noting her parents are from India.
"We need to be empathetic because this is a time that families who come from India, regardless of religion, are going to find is difficult," she said, urging people to "be prudent" and remain calm.