FIRST READING: Canadian distrust of China hits a new low

Tristin Hopper
Oct 10, 2021
One of the big stories of Election 44 is that it’s when thousands of Chinese-Canadians all decided to stop voting Conservative. In heavily Chinese-Canadian ridings in Vancouver and Toronto, Conservative MPs were defeated well out of proportion to sentiments in the rest of the country. And while defeated Richmond Conservative MP Kenny Chiu was of the view that his party was taken down by Mandarin-language disinformation, a recent story by Richmond News’ Nono Shen proffers a different theory: Chinese-Canadians just didn’t like the Tories all that much this time around. The Conservatives fell behind even the People’s Party of Canada in offering Mandarin-language campaign literature, and some voters felt that the party’s strong tack against the People’s Republic of China didn’t do a good enough job of differentiating between the actions of Beijing and Chinese people themselves.


Canadians haven’t been this sour on the People’s Republic of China in at least a generation. A new poll by the Angus Reid Institute found that a mere 10 per cent of Canadians held a “favourable” view of the country. Only 15 years ago, by contrast, that figure was at 58 per cent. With the sole exception of Saudi Arabia, China is now the most disliked by Canadians. The most beloved? Germany.

It’s quite a rebound for Germany, who was the primary enemy in Canada’s top two deadliest wars, respectively.
It’s quite a rebound for Germany, who was the primary enemy in Canada’s top two deadliest wars, respectively. PHOTO BY ANGUS REID INSTITUTE

Disinfowatch, a project started by researcher Marcus Kolga, makes it their business to keep an eye on foreign disinformation and propaganda targeting Canada. In a post this week, they delved into how Iran, China and Russia were capitalizing on the summer discoveries of unmarked graves at former Indian Residential Schools. Chinese state media has been hammering particularly hard on this issue, largely to deflect Canadian accusations that Beijing is perpetrating genocide against its Uyghur minority. Left unsaid, of course, is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the 2008 Residential School apology or the outpouring of public attention that accompanied the discoveries: Canada is instead accused of remaining “silent” on the issue.