A majority of Canadians say Justin Trudeau’s recent trip to India was not a success, a new poll shows, as the Opposition Conservatives call on the Prime Minister to apologize for the diplomatic debacle in the House of Commons.
A new Nanos/Globe and Mail survey found that more than three-quarters of Canadians view Mr. Trudeau’s trip to India last month as not a success or somewhat not a success, with only 12 per cent of respondents saying it was a success or somewhat a success.
Mr. Trudeau’s February trip, which lasted eight days and included his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and their three children, came under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that Jaspal Atwal, who was convicted of attempting to murder a visiting Indian politician on Vancouver Island in 1986, had been invited to official events with the Prime Minister.
B.C. Liberal MP Randeep Sarai took responsibility for inviting Mr. Atwal, but Mr. Trudeau’s national security adviser, Daniel Jean, later told reporters in a background briefing that factions within the Indian government had sought to sabotage Mr. Trudeau’s trip. The Indian government flatly denied the conspiracy allegation, as did Mr. Atwal.
Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole on Monday called on Mr. Trudeau to apologize, as parliamentarians returned to the Commons following a two-week break.
“When will the Prime Minister rise in this House and apologize to India for this diplomatic incident?” Mr. O’Toole said.
He later asked, “When will the Prime Minister allow the national security adviser to brief the House in the same way they briefed the press gallery?”
Mr. Trudeau didn’t respond to either question, but Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told the Commons that Canada’s national security agencies are impartial and non-partisan.
“The invitation [to Mr. Atwal] should never have been issued. When it was discovered, it was rescinded, as it should have been,” Mr. Goodale said.
According to the survey, 59 per cent of respondents said the Prime Minister’s trip was not a success, and another 18 per cent said it was somewhat not a success. Some 10 per cent of respondents said it was somewhat of a success, while only 2 per cent said it was a success. Another 11 per cent were unsure.
The Nanos poll of 1,000 Canadians was conducted March 7-12. It is considered to be accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Pollster Nik Nanos said the fact that only 12 per cent of respondents gave Mr. Trudeau’s trip a positive rating shows that it did not work out well for the Liberals.
“It’s going to be critically important that Justin Trudeau, on any of his future foreign trips, that he makes sure that they stay firmly focused on what they’re trying to achieve and to communicate that to Canadians, and not to have any distractions,” Mr. Nanos said.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh also found himself on the defensive last week over revelations that he attended rallies featuring Sikh extremists who extolled political violence to create a homeland separate from India.
Mr. Singh, who maintained that he’s always opposed acts of terrorism or violence, remained unapologetic for attending the events outside the country in 2015 and 2016, and said he has no view as a Canadian federal politician on the issue of Sikh independence.
NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice, the party’s Quebec lieutenant, told reporters on Monday that he stands by his leader, whom he called a strong human-rights advocate. He also noted Mr. Singh attended the events when he was an MPP in the Ontario Legislature.
Mr. Boulerice said he’s confident Mr. Singh will “do the right thing for the future.”
“Probably the right thing to do is to avoid any circumstances where you can in some way be related to those people who are saying that violence is a good idea,” Mr. Boulerice said.