India's media takes a dim view of Canadian coverage of PM visit here

- November 18th, 2009

Apparently, we — the Canadian media travelling with Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week — ruffled a few feathers during our three days here. Here is a review of our coverage written by Sarabjit Jagirdar and distributed by the Indo-Asian News Service:

Even as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resolved to deepen bilateral ties, the Canadian media says a nuclear deal could be risky because of terrorist threats to India's sites. They cite the recent alert at India's nuclear facilities as a warning to the Canadian government that is keen to clinch the deal. In their reports, the Canadian journalists, who even spell the name of one of the most known faces of the 20th century as Ghandi (for Mahatma Gandhi), have also raked up the past – that India cannot be trusted because it appropriated their nuclear technology to make nuclear bombs.

Before embarking on this assignment, perhaps these journalists were briefed by biased Canadian bureaucrats for whom “terrorist violence, such as bombings in public areas and on public transportation, occurs throughout India….attacks can take place anywhere and at any time in India…' Opposing the proposed civil nuclear deal between the two countries, John Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail, who is perhaps visiting India for the first time, says: “But India's nuclear facilities have been placed on high alert, as evidence emerges that two men, one of them Canadian, might have scouted sites for the terrorist attack on Mumbai last year…' Carrying his ridiculous argument further, he writes: “Does Canada really want to help sell nuclear technology to a country that is the midst of such a volatile region, a country that in the 1970s appropriated our first foray into building Indian nuclear reactors to help fashion nuclear weapons, a country whose nuclear reactors would be an ideal ground zero for jihadists?' Writing in the left-wing Toronto Star, Rick Westhead says: “For Harper, the visit may have to do less with new trade deals or warmed relations than with building ties to Indo-Canadian voters before the next election. “So rather than strategizing on new bilateral investment with India's Ambani brothers, the prime minister will travel to the Golden Temple in Amritsar – the holiest shrine in the Sikh faith – and meet with Hindi film star Akshay Kumar, a torchbearer for the Vancouver Olympics.' Not surprisingly, the current Canadian prime minister has always had prickly relations with his nation's media.

For the record, the briefing we had with “Canadian bureaucrats” was a briefing mostly with the prime minister's deputy press secretary Dimitri Soudas and he was hardly biased against India. Indeed, he reflected, if anything, the Canadian bias towards a warming of relations with India.

And as for my friend John Ibbitson of the Globe: Though it lifts a quote from one of John's pieces, it was also the question that John put to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday night. At that press conference, the Canadian media were allowed to ask just one question and the Indian media were allowed to ask just one question. This was a big deal for the Indian media here for they almost never get to ask their prime minister any questions.

As we usually do when we're allowed one or two questions, the Canadian media huddled together and decided, by consensus, what the question ought to be and who should do the asking. So, though John was the interrogator, it was a question we collectively decided upon (and one which I strongly pushed for, in fact.)

In other news: India continues to be ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world.

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3 comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    What does this have to do with the point of your post?
    “In other news: India continues to be ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world.”
    Unless I'm mistaken, which is entirely possible, the topic of your post is the Canadian media and how it's been covering the PM's visit to India.
    That “afterthought” seems intended to discredit whatever the Indians said about the Canadian media's bias.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Geez Gabby – you don't get it? We're talking nuclear deals with a country that is one of the most corrupt and who won't sign a nuclear disarmament treaty?
    Are you for real?
    Why won't they sign that treaty?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ummm, let’s see.
    http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/the-us-india-nuclear-deal-one-year-later
    Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, Vladimir Putin, Kevin Rudd, Fredrik Reinfeldt, Taro Aso … all of these past or present leaders of their respective governments have been promoting nuclear deals with India … and I’m the one who doesn’t “get it”?

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