Surrey Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal says the federal government is trying to negotiate with India to open up its airspace so Canadian citizens stranded in that country under its COVID-19 lockdown can leave.
It’s believed thousands of Surrey residents are in this predicament. On March 25 India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a total lockdown on the country in an attempt to thwart the virus from spreading among its population of 1.3 billion people. People there are banned from venturing outside their homes.
“Basically the people that are traveling abroad, the prime minister has made it very clear that they should come back home and now because Prime Minister Modi has put the moratorium on traveling, this is making life very, very difficult,” Dhaliwal told the Now-Leader on Wednesday. “But we as a government are trying to do everything possible to bring Canadians home.”
Dhaliwal said Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne spoke last week to his Indian counterpart “to make sure the ones, the Canadians who want to leave, should be allowed to leave safely and we’re trying to negotiate when they’ll be able to open up the airspace, so Canada can fly.”
The MP for Surrey-Newton’s 80-year-old mother is among those Surreyites now in India, under curfew.
“She’s fine, she’s in high spirits,” Dhaliwal said. “Basically I’m telling her to stay inside, stay safe, and make sure that she’s isolated herself, she’s been getting social assistance and she’s washing her hands often.”
He said his mother is booked to return to Canada on May 4. “Basically I hope she stays safe there. And that’s the choice she made; she made a choice to stay there and I’m sure she will be able to come back safely, and that’s what it is.
“She’s alone, but my mom is a very strong woman, accomplished,” Dhaliwal said.