Farmers’ protest in India is concerning, says Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

Trudeau addressed the issue on his own while participating in a virtual celebration of the 551st birth anniversary of Guru Nanak
Canada's finance minister Chrystia Freeland receives a fist bump from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on November 30, 2020.(REUTERS)
Canada's finance minister Chrystia Freeland receives a fist bump from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on November 30, 2020.(REUTERS)
Updated on Dec 01, 2020 02:13 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Toronto | By

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described the situation related to the ongoing farmers’ protest in India as “concerning” and said his government has been in touch with Indian authorities in this regard.

Trudeau chose to address the issue on his own while participating in a virtual celebration of ‘Gurpurab’, the 551st birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t start also by recognising the news coming out of India about the protests by farmers. The situation is concerning,” he said, in the first comments his government has made on the issue.

“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,” he added.

Trudeau said it was understandable that there were members of the Sikh community in Canada who were concerned about their friends and family in India, which was a “reality” for many of them.

He made these remarks during the event that also featured all three Sikh ministers in his Cabinet, diversity, inclusion and youth minister Bardish Chagger; innovation, science and industry minister Navdeep Bains; and defence minister Harjit Sajjan.

Trudeau’s comments followed statements made in Canada’s House of Commons by MPs who criticised “violence” in India against the protesting farmers, who are mainly from Punjab. Among those that spoke in this context were Liberal MP Ruby Sahota and Conservative MP Tim Uppal.

This came after the leader of the opposition New Democratic Party Jagmeet Singh had remarked that the “violence perpetrated” by the Indian government against “peacefully protesting” farmers as “appalling”. He said that he stood in “solidarity” with the farmers and called upon the Indian government to “engage in peaceful dialogue” with them.

Indian officials have not formally reacted to the statements coming out of Canada, and from the country’s prime minister. However, the Twitter handle for the Indian High Commission in Ottawa posted a set of infographics, saying, “Busting some myths around the farm bills. Don’t fall for fake information!”


    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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