Canada’s shifting perceptions: India’s image declines amid complex geopolitical landscape

The Angus Reid Institute’s latest survey shows that only 33% of Canadians now view India favorably, down from 56% in 2019.

Recent polling data reveals a significant shift in Canadian public opinion towards India, with favorability ratings dropping by 11 points since March 2023. This change in sentiment, however, is part of a broader trend reflecting Canada’s evolving stance on immigration and international relations.

The Angus Reid Institute’s latest survey shows that only 33% of Canadians now view India favourably, down from 56% in 2019. While this decline is notable, it’s crucial to consider the multifaceted factors contributing to this change.

One key element is the ongoing tension surrounding the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistan figure, in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s accusation of Indian government involvement has undoubtedly strained bilateral relations. However, this incident is just one piece of a larger puzzle.

Canada’s changing attitudes towards immigration play a significant role in shaping public opinion. As the country grapples with housing shortages and economic pressures, there’s growing scepticism towards liberal immigration policies. This shift affects perceptions of countries that are major sources of immigrants, including India.

Moreover, the decline in India’s favorability should be viewed in the context of broader geopolitical tensions. China, for instance, faces even more negative perceptions, with 79% of Canadians holding an unfavourable view. This suggests a general trend of wariness towards rising Asian powers rather than an India-specific issue.

The survey results also reflect Canada’s ongoing reassessment of its global partnerships. As the country navigates accusations of foreign interference and seeks to protect its sovereignty, public opinion is naturally influenced by these debates.

While the decline in India’s favorability is significant, it’s essential to view it as part of a larger shift in Canadian attitudes towards global engagement, immigration, and national security. As Canada continues to define its place in a changing world order, perceptions of international partners are likely to remain fluid.

As Canada and India work to address their differences, the coming years will be crucial in determining whether this dip in public opinion is a temporary fluctuation or indicative of a longer-term trend in bilateral relations.