Communities in multiple provinces demonstrated in solidarity with producers protesting legislation
By Diego Flammini
Canadians across the country showed their support for Indian farmers over this past weekend.
Communities in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario gathered to raise awareness about three bills the Indian government passed in September that could affect farmer livelihoods.
The bills would allow Indian farmers to sell wheat and rice directly to private buyers instead of solely participating in government-regulated transactions with guaranteed prices.
Local farmers worry private companies won’t negotiate in good faith and have held multiple demonstrations.
The Indian government is “privatizing all the farming and stuff. So, the farmers are in need of our support. There’s 12 million farmers in India that are protesting, and we’re standing with them,” Preeti Pabla told CTV News Edmonton.
“Right now, the Indian government wants to run these farms as a corporate sector,” Gursewak Grewal, who co-organized a rally in Winnipeg, Man., told CTV News. “They want to destroy the farmers.”
Some Canadians have personal connections to the situation in India and want family members to know they have support around the world.
“We have lands (in India and) we have families and relatives over there. We have the same feeling,” Rob Kanwal, who organized demonstrations in B.C., told Global News. “We want to tell them we are all with them.”
In Ontario, people gathered outside the Indian consulate on Bloor St. in Toronto to show their support for Indian farmers.
Indian producers should have the opportunity to earn a fair price for their crops.
“It would be like if we went to work, and there was no longer a minimum wage,” Nanki Kaur, who attended the demonstration, told CBC. “They feed us. It’s time for us to stand up for them.”
The demonstrations in Ontario come after the City of Brampton passed a motion in October to stand in solidarity with Indian farmers.
The rallies around Canada also came after the prime minister voiced his concerns about the ongoing situation in India.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t start by recognizing the news coming from India about the protest by farmers,” Trudeau said on Nov. 30. “The situation is concerning. We are all very worried about family and friends. I know that’s a reality for many of you.
“Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protest.”
Canada has reached out to Indian officials about the matter, Trudeau added.
The Indian government responded to the prime minister’s comments.
On Dec. 4, India’s ministry of external affairs summoned High Commissioner of Canada in India Nadir Patel to inform him that Trudeau’s comments “relating to Indian farmers constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs.”
CTV News/Dan Timmerman photo