Indo-Canadian organisations slam Trudeau's emergency over truckers protest

Published on Feb 16, 2022 11:49 AM IST

Indo-Canadian organisations are concerned over the imposition of an emergency in Canada, drawing comparisons with the absence of such extreme measures when the Indian government had to deal with year-long protests by farmers.

Messages and placards of support during a protest by truck drivers over pandemic health rules and the Justin Trudeau government, outside the parliament of Canada in Ottawa. (AFP)
Messages and placards of support during a protest by truck drivers over pandemic health rules and the Justin Trudeau government, outside the parliament of Canada in Ottawa. (AFP)
ByAnirudh Bhattacharyya I Edited by Amit Chanda

Indo-Canadian organisations have expressed concern over the imposition of an emergency in Canada, drawing comparisons with the absence of such extreme measures when the Indian government had to deal with year-long protests by farmers.

Shivendra Dwivedi, national president of the Canada India Global Forum (CIGF) said his group, which has chapters across the country, “We are pained to witness recent developments in Canada related to use of draconian powers against Freedom Convoy 2022' protesters."

“We recall the agitation by farmers in India in 2021, and the commendable way in which the government of India under Prime Minister Modi engaged with them and resolved all issues through democratic and peaceful means,” he added.

"We would like to see a peaceful resolution to end the Freedom Convoy’s occupation of Ottawa and the blockages of major highways. Things should be resolved through dialogue and not emergency edicts-as was done in India during the protests by farmers”.

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In a statement, CIGF’s British Columbia chapter said it recalled “the gratuitous advice offered by (Canadian) Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau to the Government of India on how to handle those protests. Advice, sadly, that he has not followed himself. We urge Prime Minister Trudeau to follow the example of (Indian) Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi in handling peaceful protests through democratic means”.

In December 2020, Trudeau had commented, “Canada will always be there to defend the right to peaceful protest. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we’ve reached out through multiple means directly to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns.”

Those unprompted remarks caused a rupture in ties between India and Canada.

There was also criticism from the National Association of Indo-Canadians as its president Azad Kaushik said, “While no attempt is made to understand the root cause that lies in pandemic fatigue and government interference in people’s daily lives over two years, an economic case is made out to subdue popular dissent. Canada’s image as a soft power suddenly turns into a hard one unexpected of a 21st century democracy, a loss to not just Canadians but the world.”

Meanwhile, in a wry tweet, Lebanese-Canadian professor at Concordia University in Montreal Gad Saad reached out to Modi: “Dear @narendramodi, we’re looking to leave Canada to escape the dictatorship. Any room for us in India?”

Saad is professor of marketing at Concordia and former Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioural Sciences and Darwinian Consumption.

Canadian civil liberties groups have already opposed the invoking of the Emergencies Act by Trudeau on Monday, to counter the ongoing agitation by truckers. Canadian law enforcement has managed to clear two blockades by protestors at border crossings in Coutts, Alberta and Windsor, Ontario.

However, the Freedom Convoy 2022 continues its occupation of the Canadian capital, Ottawa. That situation led to the resignation of Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly on Tuesday.

Organisers appear to be willing to continue with the siege despite the onerous penalty they may now face. One of them Tamara Lich tweeted, “Our political leaders will eventually learn that they are on the wrong side of history.”

The demonstrations were triggered by vaccine mandates, vaccine passports and Covid-19 related restrictions. Several provinces have announced the end to mandates and passports, or relaxed other restrictions since the protests commenced.

On Tuesday, the federal government removed its advisory against non-essential travel outside the country and the requirement for a mandatory negative RT-PCR test result before being allowed to board a flight to a Canadian destination. That will, however, only apply to fully vaccinated travellers.

But Ottawa remains firm on maintaining its mandate for cross-border trucking, introduced in mid-January, and the immediate cause of the current protests.

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