Canadian Truckers Protest: What India Must Learn


Disclaimer: IndicVoices has zero interest in Canadian politics and does not have allegiance with any political parties.

IndicVoices considers truckers' demands are unscientific and Canadian government has taken the right step.

Worldwide, vaccines have been proved to be beneficial against COVID-19 spread and severity. Unvaccinated individuals are not only carrying risks for themselves, they are prolonging the pandemic and increasing risks for others.

Canadian truckers protest has stepped into the third week since the rally blocked Parliament Hill in the capital city of Ottawa on 29th January. Multiple key locations have been blocked, especially the US-Canada borders. The Ambassador Bridge blockade is the biggest news grabbing headline for last few days as this port of entry is the busiest border crossing in North America covering 25% of US-Canada trade.

Why Is This Protest?

The protest was triggered by the new mandate from the Canadian government that requires all truck drivers to be fully vaccinated in order to cross the US border. The government also mandated vaccine passport, a digital or paper document with QR code with COVID-19 vaccination details, for domestic and international travels. This has been made mandatory for many amenities like restaurants, movie theaters, and sporting events. Government employees without such proof were sent for unpaid leave.

Ambassador Bridge Blockade: A key bridge connecting USA with Canada

Many citizens protested against it as they did not want to take the vaccines and considered it as an attack on their freedom of choice. Unlike most Indians, many people in USA, Canada and other developed countries have vaccine hesitancy and such people are called anti-vaxxers. These people among the trucking community and outside have now come down on streets to protest against the government mandate. Their primary demand is to withdraw the mandatory vaccine requirements. As a matter of fact, we, Indians, should take pride in the fact that we took a more scientific approach when it came to vaccination and protecting our communities.

What Can We Learn?

But there is a big learning for us from this incident happening almost 12,000 kilometres away. For that we need to understand the response from the Canadian governments to tackle this crisis. The Canadian Federal government, led by Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, criticized the protest vehemently. He said that the truckers and the anti-vaxxers are defying science. He told the protesters to go home or face severe penalties as high as $100,000. He termed it as "illegal" and "unacceptable". Large number of heavily armed police forces have been deployed in order to clear out the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge by force. Finally on 13th February, the bridge reopened after six-day long complete blockade. On 14th February, Prime Minister Trudeau invoked Emergency Act to bring this protest to an end.

On the other side, the government of Ontario, a province in Canada, led by Conservative Party leader and Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, went one step ahead and declared state of emergency on 11th February itself threatening fines and jail for the protesters. He asked the courts to freeze donations to truckers on a crowdfunding site.

Left: Justin Trudeau, Right: Doug Ford

Those who are not familiar about the Canadian politics, Liberal Party and Conservative Party are two arch rivals like our BJP and Congress. Very recently, the Liberal Party defeated the Conservative Party in the central, called Federal in Canada, election. Whereas a reverse situation happened in Ontario in 2018 when the Liberals lost to the Conservatives in the state level election. But see how they have come together on a national cause.

What did our opposition leaders do during the year-long Farmers Protest? Just last year, Rahul Gandhi staged tractor protest and reached parliament on a tractor! Mamata Banerjee met Rakesh Tikait to extend her full support to the protest. What else can you expect from her who destroyed her own state’s industrialization dream for her mere political ambition?

So, what do we learn here? We learn that self-proclamation of 56 inches of chest is not useful. It has to be demonstrated in action. Instead of repealing the laws and in turn canceling hope of any farm reform, ruling government should have taken strong step even if that means losing popularity.

What else do we learn? Opposition parties are not there just for mere opposition. When there is a national cause, parties should set aside their electoral priorities.

What Else We Must Learn, Remember & Never Forget?

There is one more learning in this drama. Note the fact that Canadian government brought police and court actions against a protest that is not even a month long. They invoked Emergency Act to end a protest that entered just its third week. What did the same Justin Trudeau say during the year-long Farmers Protest in India? "We're all very worried about family and friends. We believe in the importance of dialogue", he continued “Canada will always stand up for peaceful protests”. No one asked for his advice. But, he still did it and to the detriment of India's national cause.

Even Biden’s America is now asking Canada to end the protest, in not so democratic way! Last week, the White House urged Trudeau's government to use its 'federal powers' to end this demonstration. Do you know what the American government told us last year? The Biden administration urged the Modi government to resolve farmer protests through ‘dialogue’.

How can we forget how the British ministers debated Indian Farmers protest in their British parliament! Several MPs from the Liberal Democrats, Labour Party and the Scottish National Party had expressed concern about the safety of the protesting farmers.

Hypocrisy Exhibit # 1

We must not forget multiple rallies in all these Western countries supporting farmer's protest last year. There were huge donations from foreign countries for the protesting farmers and that is one of the reasons why they could sustain the agitation for over a year. Many so-called Western celebrities like Greta Thunberg, Rihanna spoke in support of the protesting farmers. Many Western medias like NYT, Washington Post, BBC criticized the Indian government as if there was a holocaust going on here. The same Washington Post is now publishing article with the headline “Auto industry already feeling the pinch from Canadian bridge blockade - More workers could be idled if protests keep car parts gridlocked

Hypocrisy Exhibit # 2

I just wonder if there is an Oscar for hypocrisy! When Canadian truckers defy science, it must be stopped by force. But when Indian farmers defy economics, it is their democratic rights! 

When US-Canada trade is impacted then it is time to invoke the Emergency Act. When Indian central government loses 1.5 lakh crore rupees (20 billion USD) of taxpayer’s money for buying grains at MSP (Minimum support Price) that is already over 2.5 times of stipulated buffer stock norm and the grain that finally rots in the government warehouse, nobody bats an eye.

Now we should know what to do when the West lectures us on democracy and human rights. I have to now find a new dustbin!

Read why Farm Reform was very critical for India: Farm Laws - When Politics Triumphs Over Economics

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