Canada-India relations seems to be back on a positive trajectory; but what are the challenges?

29th March 2022 – Improved relations between US and India have had its ripple effects across the border as well. In the past few months, it seems that Canada-India relations are back on a positive trajectory and the latest talks between the two democratic nations to achieve the full potential in trade, economics and other bilateral ties is indeed refreshing.

Recent Developments

Mary Ng’s Visit to India

Early this month, Minister of International Trade, Mary Ng travelled to India on a 4-day trip and had several rounds of talk with her Indian counterpart, Piyush Goyal, who is the Minister for Commerce and Industry.

The joint statement issued at conclusion of the 5th India-Canada ministerial dialogue on Trade and Investment noted that the bilateral trade in 2021 reached US$ 6.29 billion with a growth rate of 12% from the previous year.

Both leaders shared their concerns and challenges posed to the global supply chains, including disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and changing world order. Other areas common to both nations including tourism, significant movement of professionals and skilled workers, students and business travel were discussed during the meetings.

Both nations agreed to stay engaged and provide momentum to harness the full potential of trade and investment relations.

NIA Visited Canada

In November 2021, a high-level team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India visited Canada for two days at the invitation of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). A joint exercise and discussions were held between both agencies on matters of terrorism and other serious crimes.

Both agencies discussed possibilities of cooperation and capacity building in police investigations. Both agencies shared common views on the need for strong action against global terrorism and to curtail terror financing.

Other Significant Areas of Bilateral Relations

As per a recent report, India remains the leading source country, accounting to about 35% of Canada’s international student population.

Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman could be traveling to Canada this spring. Similarly, it is being reported that Canadian Minister of Defence, Anita Anand and Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly could be flying to India soon to further strengthen the bilateral relations.


Challenges and Road Ahead

Russia-Ukraine Conflict

India’s neutral stand in the Russia-Ukraine conflict has raised some eyebrows in the West including Canada. India abstained from voting against Russia in the United Nations whereas Canada has sanctioned Russia and its several officers. India has verbally condemned the situation developing in the conflict zone, but its neutral stance on the issue might leave a bad taste, at least in the short-term.

Sensitive Indo-Pacific

The increasing influence of China and its aggressive policies in the Indo-Pacific region, especially the South China Sea led to the re-establishment of QUAD. India has emerged an important partner in QUAD. Though, Canada is not a member of QUAD, it might be inclined to follow a similar path as its neighbor, the US, and is likely to strengthen its ties with India.

Moreover, of late, the Sino-Canada relations did go through light whirlwinds. Canada should not forget the troubles it had to go through for the extradition of the two Michaels. China had also imposed trade sanctions against Canadian pork, beef and soybeans.

Extremist Forces in Canada

The presence of some extremist ideologies in Canada promote hatred towards India through false media reports, agenda-driven narrative and vile propaganda. Mis-information spreaded through social media and other campaigns attempts to derail the progress made in the bilateral relations.

Increasing Hinduphobia in Canada

A rise in Hinduphobia and systemic discrimination against Hindus in Canadian politics, academia, media and public and private institutions is yet another concern that could bring fissures in the bilateral relations between both the countries. Last year, a hinduphobic conference ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ was promoted by three major Canadian universities. Despite much protest from the Indian community, the universities chose to proceed with the conference.

Indian Commission in Canada recently objected to a private member’s bill which sought to ban the usage of Swastika, a pious symbol for Hindus, Buddhists and Jainis across the globe. Swastika is often mistaken for the Nazi hate symbol of ‘Hakenkreuz’ which literally translates to ‘hooked-cross’.


Both nations have much to gain from each other in trade, counter-terrorism,geo-politics, humanitarian tasks, information and technology and cyber-security. The months ahead would be vital for a robust engagement.

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