Public perception in Canada of India has deteriorated in the past year, finds survey | World News - Hindustan Times
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Public perception in Canada of India has deteriorated in the past year, finds survey

Jun 18, 2024 02:21 PM IST

Public opinion has turned against India in the wake of the killing of pro-Khalistan figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar and allegations of foreign interference

Toronto: Public opinion in Canada has turned more negative towards India over the past year in the wake of the killing of pro-Khalistan figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar and allegations of foreign interference, but the dropping favourability can also be party attributed to growing anti-immigration sentiment in the country.

Sikh protesters stand outside of Surrey Provincial Court, where four suspects arrested by Canadian police for the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, appear, in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, on May 21. (REUTERS)
Sikh protesters stand outside of Surrey Provincial Court, where four suspects arrested by Canadian police for the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, appear, in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, on May 21. (REUTERS)

A recent survey from the non-profit polling agency Angus Reid Institute (ARI) noted that “positive appraisal of India has declined by 11 points in Canada since March 2023; a minority of one-third (33%) who say they view the country favourably are outnumbered by the majority (54%) who do not”.

The positive rating for India in 2019 was at 56%.

Another country accused of foreign interference also suffers in public perception, with 79% having a negative view of China.

“Though (Canadian Prime Minister) Trudeau says Canada supports a ‘united India’, the presence of Sikh separatists in Canada has been a source of tension between India and Canada. Trudeau’s accusation that the Indian government was involved in the assassination of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar only exacerbated the strained relationship. Recent rocky relations between Canada and India also appear to be dragging down Canadian assessments of the world’s most populous country,” ARI stated.

However, bilateral tensions may not be the only contributor to the worsening perception, as rising anti-immigration sentiment has been also projected upon Indians, who are the most visible and form the largest cohort of migrants to Canada. “These aspects, I believe, are playing a much bigger role compared to the political tensions between the two countries,” political commentator Darshan Maharaja said, referring to the problems associated with high levels of immigration.

“While it is tempting to attribute this to the worsened bilateral relations between India and Canada, I think this factor plays a comparatively smaller role. For more than seven or eight months, there has been a lot of reporting on the issues of international students/temporary foreign workers and Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). All these areas have been shown to be rife with corruption and malpractice, such as sham colleges, useless courses that are only meant to serve as a vehicle to get a person into Canada and to enable them to gain Permanent Residency in Canada. In each of these aspects, Indians or Indian-origin Canadians are shown to be playing a major role,” he explained.

This is reflected on social media, where anti-India posts are abound. One person posted, “Since Trudeau invited one million Indian ‘international students’ over, Toronto and Brampton are no longer part of Canada.”

A video of a fight in Mississauga drew the comment, “Another night in Little India.”

Violence linked to Indo-Canadians, even those based in India, has not helped, with increasing levels of drive-by shootings, extortion attempts, car thefts and robberies.

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