Most Canadians (53%) view the alleged incident a “major foreign policy crisis.”

Key takeaways

  • A majority of Canadians (53%) label the alleged incident a “major foreign policy crisis”
  • 53% have a more negative view of India after hearing of the country’s alleged involvement in the killing. 
  • 40% of Canadians favour economic sanctions against India as a response. 
  • Canadians have dismal views of Trudeau, Pollievre, and Singh’s abilities to handle foreign policy crises.  

Pluriel Research has released new data from a national survey into Canadians’ response to the alleged involvement of India in the assassination of a Canadian citizen in British Columbia. 

“Canadians are paying attention to what most of them call a ‘major foreign policy crisis,’” said Gabe De Roche, CEO of Pluriel Research. “72% are aware of the allegations, and 53% of Canadians label this alleged incident a ‘major foreign policy crisis.”

The study’s findings suggest that a significant majority of Canadians, comprising 53%, characterize the alleged event as a ‘major foreign policy crisis.’ Another 31% perceive it as a ‘minor foreign policy crisis,’ while merely 7% believe it does not constitute a crisis. A total of 10% expressed uncertainty on this issue. Interestingly, consistent majorities across supporters of the main federal parties consider the incident a “major” foreign policy crisis. This includes 51% of Liberal supporters, 58% of Conservative supporters, and 56% of NDP supporters.

When it comes to Prime Minister Trudeau’s response to the alleged incident, the survey reveals that 56% of Canadians believe that his response has been ‘about right.’ However, opinions vary, with 21% deeming his response ‘too strong’ and 22% viewing it as ‘too weak.’

The alleged incident has had an impact on the opinions of 53% of Canadians, leading them to have a more negative view of India. This breakdown includes 18% who feel ‘much more negative’ and 35% who feel ‘somewhat more negative.’ However, 42% of Canadians report that the alleged incident has not altered their opinion of India.

When asked about their stance on economic sanctions against India in response to the alleged incident, even if it imposed costs on the Canadian economy, Canadians exhibited a split opinion. Specifically, 40% of Canadians expressed support for sanctions (14% strongly and 26% somewhat), while 39% were against them (13% strongly and 26% somewhat). Approximately 20% of respondents indicated uncertainty. 

Support for sanctions and opposition to them among Liberal supporters were at 47% in support and 39% opposed. Among Conservative supporters, 40% were in favour of sanctions, while 44% were opposed. NDP supporters are split, with 37% in support of sanctions and 37% against them.

No federal party leaders secured a high level of trust from a majority of the public on their ability to handle a foreign policy crisis. Prime Minister Trudeau received 12% high trust, 34% moderate trust, 22% only a small amount of trust, and 31% no trust at all. Pierre Poilievre garnered 13% high trust, 33% moderate trust, 26% only a small amount of trust, and 28% no trust at all. Jagmeet Singh earned 9% high trust, 36% moderate trust, 30% only a small amount of trust, and 25% no trust at all.

Note on methodology: these insights are part of Pluriel Research’s “What Canadians Think” omnibus survey, one of Pluriel’s high-frequency data products. The survey was fielded online from Sept 25-26, 2023, with a total of 1,092 respondents (Canadians 18+), and survey weights were applied to account for any remaining sampling imbalances. The margin-of-error for an equivalent probability sample is +/- 3%. Margins-of-error for subgroups in the sample are larger commensurate with their share of the population.