Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declared a public order emergency for the first time in the country’s history to support provinces in ending the ongoing blockades caused by the ongoing truckers’ protest against Covid vaccine mandates.
Addressing the media here on Monday, Trudeau said that he invoked the Emergencies Act to give the federal government extra and “temporary” powers to handle the issue, adding the move targets those areas in need, not the whole country. The Act provides special powers to authorities to respond to emergency scenarios affecting public welfare (natural disasters, disease outbreaks), public order (civil unrest), and international emergencies or war emergencies.
The Act will ensure that essential services, such as towing services to remove trucks, are rendered, Trudeau stated. It will also be used to protect ‘critical infrastructure’ such as borders and airports from the blockades and the government will enable the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to enforce municipal bylaws. Involvement of military force is not on the cards as yet.
As the truck convoy protest organisers have secured millions of dollars from crowdfunding sites, the measures also include giving banks the power to suspend or freeze accounts of blockade supporters without a court order, and force the platforms and cryptocurrencies to follow anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws.
Also speaking at the same press conference, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said that companies with trucks involved in the illegal blockades will have their corporate bank accounts frozen and their insurance suspended.
What are the protests about?
In late January, thousands of Canadian truckers and their supporters descended on Canada’s capital Ottawa to oppose the government’s Covid-19 vaccine requirement for truckers crossing the border into the US, which has the same policy. On February 6, Ontario province, where Ottawa is located, declared a state of emergency to quell the convoy protests.
On the surface, truckers are protesting against the vaccine mandate, but as this piece by Rupa Subramanya shows, many non-truckers too are involved in the Freedom Convoy protest. It has grown into an outcry by ordinary citizens against what they consider stifling control by government, mainstream media, Big Tech, Big Pharma.
“What’s happening in Canada right now is bigger than the mandates. The convoy is spearheaded by truckers, but its message of opposition to life under government control has brought onto the icy streets countless, once-voiceless people declaring that they are done being ignored. That the elites—the people who have Zoomed their way through the pandemic—had better start paying attention to the fentanyl overdoses, the suicides, the crime, the despair. Or else,” Subramanya writes. And it appears that copycat protests are popping up in the rest of the Western world too. Interestingly, she has classified Sikhs and Indians as separate identities.
Comparison with Bharat’s “farmers” protest
As of date, no violence has been carried out by these protestors. Some fringe elements have been observed bearing Nazi symbols, and there have been reports of ‘harassment’ of residents (from blaring horns). Cops have been busing issuing hundreds of tickets and arresting people, including the elderly. The city also threatened to arrest anyone who brought gas to the protestors, but hundreds of Ottawans defied those orders.
When compared to the so-called farmers protest which crippled Bharat’s capital for an year and involved multiple incidents of violence, none worse than the anarchy unleashed by tractor-riding lumpens who stormed Delhi’s Red Fort on Bharat’s Republic Day (January 26, 2021) and left around 400 police personnel injured, the Ottawa protests are definitely peaceful. One protestor too died that day after his speeding tractor crashed and turned over – that death was falsely claimed to be due to police firing, a lie propagated with glee by Western outlets like Guardian.
Another key difference is that the Ottawa protests seem genuine and organic and people involved are ordinary folks from all walks of life. The protests in Bharat were staged and as some rational voices in the West also acknowledged, the protests represented the interests of politically powerful (and heavily subsidized) remnants of Bharat’s traditional landlord communities – the protestors were Bharat’s better-off farmers from just two states with the largest farms and highest farm incomes. And the hijacking of the protests by pro-Khalistan separatist elements sitting in the West was pretty obvious once the protest toolkit got leaked.
Yet, almost all Western governments supported the “farmers” protest in Bharat and leaders like Trudeau gave unsolicited advice to the Indian government.
Reactions to Canada’s declaration of Emergency
Many have called out the hypocrisy of the Canadian government which is never shy of giving lectures on democracy and freedom but is now cracking down on peaceful protestors.
Nayib Bukele, President of the Central American nation of El Salvador (he calls himself ‘CEO of El Salvador’), tweeted “Are these the people who like to give lessons to other countries about democracy and freedom? This is one of the top ranking countries in the “democracy index”? Your credibility on these topics is now worth 0.”
One person called out the constant Western demonization of Russia and Putin, compared to the approval by Western governments and mainstream media of Canada’s infringement of its citizen’s civil rights.
Its pertinent to note that Trudeau is an uber-liberal and hence the darling of liberal Western establishments. If a similar Emergency had been declared by Donald Trump, all hell would have broken loose. Mainstream media in the West has by & large welcomed the Emergency declaration by Trudeau or reported it in a neutral tone –
Others highlighted the vast difference in approach of Bharat’s government that tried multiple times to talk to its protestors. Even the Supreme Court got involved and set up an expert committee to address ‘ concerns, but even that olive branch was contemptuously rebuffed.
The hypocrisy of the West, especially the ‘Liberal International Order’ which dominates circles of power in these countries and routinely sermonizes the rest of the world, is best summarized by these two tweets –
Others reminded Trudeau about what he uttered on December 1, 2020 with regard to Bharat’s protests: “Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protesters. We believe in the process of dialogue. This is a moment for all of us to pull together”
The sheer hypocrisy of pro-Khalistan Canadian politicians like MP Jagmeet Singh is the most breath-taking. After cheering and promoting anarchic and violent protests in their country of origin, these charlatans are now pleading for compliance with law & order and approving harsh measures to tackle protests in their country of choice.
The hypocrisy and double standards are not limited to Canada alone.
Refusing to respect the farmers’ protests as an internal issue of Bharat, the UK Parliament had held a 90 minute debate on the subject on March 8, 2021, which, a day later, Bharat’s High Commission in London condemned.
Ironically, in the same month that UK chose to lecture Bharat, it faced large-scale protests over the disappearance of Sarah Everard, a woman raped and murdered by a police constable. The UK police dealt with protestors in a heavy handed. And the UK Parliament introduced a new policing bill which is likely to curtail the right of citizens to protest!
Australia, France, Belgium – all have dealt with Covid related citizens protests in what can be described as an aggressive and harsh manner. Yet, these nations don’t think twice before ignorantly and arrogantly commenting on actions taken by the ‘developing’ world.
The lesson for the Modi government is clear – stop worrying about global (Western) image and reputation. Do what is best for your nation and its law-abiding silent majority.