Canada PM Justin Trudeau’s Popularity Drops After India Trip Fiasco

Voting intentions for Trudeau's Liberals are lower than that for Conservatives for the first time in two years.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s controversial visit to India in February this year may even cost him the 2019 election scheduled later in the year. His popularity in the country has witnessed a dip since his family visit to India invited controversy for more reasons than one, according to an Ottawa-based polling agency.

While Canadians saw Trudeau as a global leader, and he was ahead in the polls until recently, he was criticized by the global as well as the India media, and social media users, for various reasons during the India trip. The garish Indian outfits worn by him and his family members were criticized as “cultural appropriation” and “Bollywood-style dressing.” The presence of Jaspal Atwal, a former Khalistani separatist convicted of attempt to murder, at one of the official events organized by Canada government in India became a political issue back home as well.

The aftermath has been visible even weeks after the trip.

“All of a sudden, we saw this drop,” David Coletto, chief executive of Ottawa polling firm Abacus Data, told the Washington Post, referring to his company’s latest poll completed in early March. “It’s the first time since Trudeau became prime minister that we have results showing the Conservatives slightly ahead.”

According to another poll, CBC’s Poll Tracker, Conservative Party is now in the lead at 37.7 per cent of voting intentions compared with Trudeau’s Liberals at 33.7 per cent. The left-of-center New Democratic Party (NDP) was third at 18.5 percent. The NDP is led by Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh Canadian leader.

A section of the Canadian media has been openly critical of Trudeau, once seen as a heartthrob across the world.

“The little things that seemed so charming at first, all those dashing gestures and glam photo ops might well come to seem, at first frivolous, then irritating — an impression of unseriousness compounded by a series of bungled foreign-policy excursions of which the India trip was only the last,” Andrew Coyne of the National Post wrote in a column on March 9.

Another pollster Nik Nanos was quoted as saying that Trudeau’s fall in popularity is “self-inflicted.” Nanos added that Trudeau’s pro-feminist stance has alienated male votes but they still have time to circle back to a “progressive agenda and focus on the middle class.”

The repercussions of the presence of Atwal at a Canadian official event are still being felt by his party in Canada. The Liberals recently prevented Trudeau’s national security adviser Daniel Jean from testifying at the House of Commons. The Liberals later said that they offered to brief Andrew Scheer, the Tory leader. However, Scheer denied it.

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