Farmers’ protests in Bharat and truckers’ freedom convoy in Canada, in a way, are two different events. Both are internal matters of the respective countries, having Constitutional mechanisms to deal with them. At the same time, these two protests present a classic case for comparative analysis. Not long ago, Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau had shown a classic trait of being a ‘liberal’ in the present context. Meddling in internal affairs of Bharat, while commenting on the farmers’ protest, he had remarked, “Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protesters. We believe in the process of dialogue”. Trudeau suddenly became an icon for the new ideological category of left-liberals (a classic oxymoron expression). The same Canadian PM has opted for a high handed approach to deal with the truckers’ protest.
In Bharat, the Government had introduced the Farm Bills with the logic of liberating the agriculture sector from the clutches of intermediaries and helping the small farmers. The Bills on agricultural reforms were discussed and debated, both within and outside the Parliament. Initially, the blockades and protests that stirred in Punjab reached the borders of the National Capital, with some groups from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana joining the bandwagon. All anti-BJP forces tried to milk the issue for political benefits, and the external elements funded by Pakistan wanted to give it a communal colour. The Government had eleven rounds of negotiations with the farmers’ unions and, when it realised the divisive repercussions of the so-called farmers’ protests, decided to withdraw the Bills. Despite the Covid-19 crisis, call for the death of the Prime Minister, cases of murders and molestations at the protesting sites etc., the Government restrained from using any force for more than a year.
Now contrast this with the protests in Canada. The so-called Freedom Convoy protests, which began in mid-January in Ottawa, were sparked by a mandate that requires Canadian cross-border truckers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. A fund-raising event systematically turned into a protest to paralyse the nation’s capital, making it inaccessible and forcing some businesses to close. Huge funds were raised, the Parliament was on the radar and hateful, anti-semitic imageries were used. By February 11, police forcibly removed protesters. On February 14, for the first time in Canadian history, the Federal Government invoked the Emergencies Act. It used the Constitutional powers to restore order and bring the ongoing trucker convoy protests to an end. As a democracy, if two-thirds of Canadians support the decision to invoke Emergency, it is their internal matter. But can liberals like Trudeaus worldwide afford to have double standards over different protests in democracies?
Two events reveal the same pattern of the blockade – picking some obscure issue to challenge the democratic structures and using violence and destruction to vitiate the democratic process. Still, the responses from custodians of liberal democracies are diametrically opposite. For the self-proclaimed defenders of democracy like Washington Post and New York Times, the farmers’ protest was for the restoration of democracy while action by the Canadian Government is also for saving democracy – a clear sign of left-wokism taking over the true liberal ethos.
Hatred for Hindutva – that represents the essential ‘liberal’ ethos – is at the root of this hypocrisy; love for the Chinese variety of democracy is another reason behind duplicity. These double standards by the certified liberals will prove to be a death knell for the spirit of liberalism and democracy in the future.