As tensions between India and Canada ramp up, the head of a council that promotes trade and investment between the two countries says businesses will have to find new ways to connect with each other amid the heated political climate.

Victor Thomas, President and CEO of the Canada-India Business Council, told BNN Bloomberg on Thursday that his organization believes there are still significant economic opportunities between the two countries, despite tense government relations.

Thomas recently attended a global business conference in India affiliated with the G20 summit, where he said there were discussions about Canada-India trade agreements.

Things have “changed drastically” since then, Thomas said, but he still sees “significant” long-term business opportunities with India.

“It's just now a matter of how we navigate it into the future,” he said.

The growing rift between Ottawa and New Delhi escalated on Monday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Parliament there were “credible allegations” of Indian government involvement in the assassination of Sikh independence activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was shot dead in June outside a B.C. temple. Indian officials have called the allegations “absurd.” 


By Thursday, both governments had halted visa services between the two countries – something Thomas says will immediately affect businesses. 

“One of the things that's always significant is for people to go see and understand the opportunity, and with that now being challenged, we have to find new ways to be able to do that,” he said.

“We have a lot of companies that have invested and that are trading … all of this has happened in just a few short days, so I think we're just trying to take stock and understand what exactly is happening.”


Thomas said he hopes political tensions don’t directly spill over into the businesses world in the form of boycotts or sanctions, but he says it’s too early to tell how far-reaching the effects of the row will be.

“It's a very interesting time,” he said. “Of course, the government-to-government relations do affect business, and of course, some of these measures are going to affect us but I think it's too early to say exactly what that means, (but) it's a challenging time.”