Canada has evacuated 41 diplomats and their 42 family members from India after Delhi made good on its threat to strip them of their diplomatic immunity, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Thursday.

"I can confirm that India has formally conveyed its plan to unilaterally remove diplomatic immunities for all but 21 Canadian diplomats and dependents in Delhi by tomorrow, Oct. 20," Joly said.

Joly said that in their "unreasonable" request for diplomatic parity, India would only allow 21 diplomats and their families to maintain their diplomatic status, putting the others at risk for having their protections stripped arbitrarily, leaving them vulnerable to reprisal or arrest.

"The safety of Canadians and of our diplomats is always my top concern. Given the implications of India's actions on the safety of our diplomats, we have facilitated their safe departure from India," Joly said. "This means that our diplomats and their families have now left."

Chiding India for acting "contrary to international law," and in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Joly accused India of escalating the bilateral tensions, but Canada will not be reciprocating.

"Let me be clear, Canada will continue to defend international law, which applies to all nations and will continue to engage with India. Now more than ever, we need diplomats on the ground and we need to talk to one another," Joly said.


The minister announced the development "on the situation with India" alongside Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller, who made clear the shrinking of Canada's footprint to one-third of what it was, will impact the level of service delivery Canada will be able to provide in that country.

Canada will be pausing all in-person services at the consulates in Chandigarh, Mumbai and Bangalore, and is now directing all Canadians in India to the High Commission in New Dehli.

"Remaining staff will continue to focus on the work that can't be moved out of the country, such as urgent cases, visa printing, and working with visa application centers," Miller said, noting that Canada's 10 visa application centres are operated by third-party contractors and will not be impacted.

Those left are considered core staff, who will remain focused on the current challenging diplomatic situation, as well as trade and business files, according to officials that briefed reporters on a not-for-attribution basis on Thursday evening.

Commercial programming for businesses will continue, but at reduced capacity, and Canada continues to employ locally-engaged staff. 

Miller noted that in 2022, India was the top country for permanent residents, temporary foreign workers, and international students in Canada, and so the federal government recognizes the impacts that will be felt.

"I want to reassure our clients in India and Canadians who have family and friends in India that Canada will continue to accept and process all temporary and permanent resident applications from India," he said, adding that it may just take longer.


This update comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked Thursday for a status update on the Indian government giving Ottawa an Oct. 10 deadline to significantly reduce its diplomatic footprint.

As CTV News reported at the time, Canada was asked to see dozens of diplomats depart, to put the contingent of officials in India on par with the number of Indian diplomats in Canada. Sources said then, that Canada had already evacuated a majority of the Canadian diplomats working in India outside of Dehli to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Trudeau did not directly answer the question, saying instead that Joly would have more to say later.

"We have been continually engaged in diplomacy and in dialogue with the Indian government," Trudeau said. "This is a serious matter that we are taking extremely seriously."

Relations remain strained between the two countries, after Trudeau accused the Indian government of being involved in a murder on Canadian soil, shocking many in September when he revealed intelligence agencies were investigating "credible allegations" that agents of the Indian government were involved in the June death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in B.C.

Amid the initial blowback, which included an exchange of discharging top officials and India suspending visa services for Canadians, Global Affairs Canada stated that "with some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms," it was "assessing its staff complement in India."

Pressed for more details on whether Canada has provided India evidence to back Canada's claims and how it reached its conclusions regarding the potential link to the extrajudicial killing, Joly was unspecific beyond stating the two countries had various meetings and information was shared, leading up to Trudeau's House of Commons declaration.

Joly also restated Trudeau's calls for India to cooperate in the ongoing probe, noting federal law enforcement agencies in Canada "are working actively."