Growing tensions between Canada and India are being watched closely in the Maritimes.
Experts in international development say India’s suspension of visa services in Canada will have an impact, but they’re divided when it comes to the dispute’s long-term effects.
Associate professors at Dalhousie University in Halifax say the pause will disrupt travel, especially ahead of Diwali.
“There is of course a problem for those Canadians who are seeking to travel in the next couple of months,” says Nissim Mannathukkaren. “That’s an issue because if the visa services are suspended they will not be able to travel if they have booked tickets.”
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“There’s a lot of families with connections from across Canada to India and now their ability to travel back to India is completely on hold unless they have Indian citizenship,” explains Robert Huish.
The countries are locked into a diplomatic dispute stemming from the federal government’s allegation India is behind the June 18th murder of Canadian Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Huish fears it places Indian students on Canadian campuses in a vulnerable position.
“What we need to do is make sure those communities have support during this difficult time and that as the political tensions mount between the two countries we remember this is about a government-to-government tension,” says Huish. “It’s not about people to people.”
He also worries about thee impact on technology.
“There’s a lot of tech industry in Canada that relies on support from India,” says Huish. “There’s likely going to be tensions that come up in that way too, so we can probably say that in Canada there will be fewer business dealings with India going forward.”
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Mannathukkaren doesn’t think there is cause for alarm.
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“There are tensions with China, and China is not necessarily an ally of the Western Block, but despite that everything goes on as usual in terms of students going and coming from there, or visitors coming from there, and vice versa,” he says.
The Nova Scotia government is also keeping a close watch.
“This is certainly a federal issue and we will continue to monitor the actions of the federal government,” says Advanced Education Minister Brian Wong.
Meantime, Huish stresses kindness despite the turbulent times.
“Nova Scotians need to be very mindful that this is a government-to-government battle, it’s not about people,” he says. “Be kind to each other during what’s going to be a difficult period.”
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