Home » News » Opinion » Tractors, Truckers and Trudeau: The Hypocrisy of Western Politicians Stands Exposed
5-MIN READ

Tractors, Truckers and Trudeau: The Hypocrisy of Western Politicians Stands Exposed

With the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers headed for Ottawa to protest outside Parliament Hill, there are reports that Trudeau has been moved to an ‘undisclosed location’, writes Sushant Sareen. Photo: Reuters

With the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers headed for Ottawa to protest outside Parliament Hill, there are reports that Trudeau has been moved to an ‘undisclosed location’, writes Sushant Sareen. Photo: Reuters

Regardless of whether or not anyone agrees with the Canadian truckers protest against vaccination mandates, there is delicious irony in what Canadian PM Justin Trudeau is facing.

“A degree is a degree, whether fake or genuine”. This timeless quote of a former chief minister of Balochistan Aslam Raisani can be paraphrased as “a protest is a protest, whether by farmers or by truckers” to troll Canada’s woke Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. With the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers headed for Ottawa to protest outside Parliament Hill, there are reports that Trudeau has been moved to an ‘undisclosed location’. Given that Trudeau’s gratuitous remarks during the farmers movement still rankle, his predicament is causing a feeling of schadenfreude among a whole lot of self-respecting Indians. In fact, there is great temptation to throw his virtue signalling back at him.

Imagine Narendra Modi doing a Trudeau to Trudeau by doing nothing more than repeating his own words to him, only replacing India with Canada, and farmers with truckers. Here is how such a statement would read: “I would be remiss if I didn’t start also by recognising the news coming out of India (Canada) about the protest by farmers (truckers). The situation is concerning and we’re all very worried about family and friends (after all, a substantial chunk of the trucking business in Canada is run by people of Indian-origin and surely the Modi government which takes great interest in well-being of the diaspora would be ‘very worried’). I know that’s a reality for many of you. Let me remind you, Canada (India) will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protest. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we’ve reached out through multiple means directly to the Indian (Canadian) authorities to highlight our concerns.”

Regardless of whether or not anyone agrees with the Canadian truckers protest against vaccination mandates, there is delicious irony in what Trudeau is facing because there are all sorts of parallels that can be drawn between what happened during the farmers protest – remember the tractor march on January 26, 2021, and the threats to gherao Parliament? – and what could happen during the truckers protest.

Sample some of these parallels: If the farmers were threatening to hold New Delhi to ransom, the truckers are threatening to do the same to Ottawa; there was a real threat of violence (in fact there was violence during the farmers protest), just as there is a threat of violence with the truckers laying siege on Ottawa. If Trudeau considers the protesting truckers a ‘fringe minority’ protesting the vaccination regulations, the protesting farmers too were a fringe minority among all farmers in India, most of whom were in favour of the farm laws. If far-right extremists and white nationalists have “latched on” to the truckers protest, the Khalistani extremists, terrorists and separatists too inserted themselves in the farmers protest. Just as there are suspicions that many donations to the truckers are not coming from Canadians and there is some activity being funded by foreign countries, there were similar apprehensions on the funding and support for the farmers (including from Pakistan and Canada). Quite like the organisers of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ have distanced themselves from the ‘fringe’ elements, so too did the leaders of the farm protests. The only problem was that when the troublemakers came into action, these farm leaders were found twiddling their thumbs and feigning innocence and ignorance.

There is more. Just as Trudeau is convinced that the vaccine mandates are designed for the well-being of Canadians and that opposing them is anti-science, anti-society and anti-government, so too was the case with farm laws that made eminent economic sense, were designed to improve the farm economy and opposing them was anti-economic logic, anti-government and anti-society. But back then, Trudeau was more interested in appeasing the Khalistanis, including those within his cabinet and among his vote bank. He never stopped for a minute to think that he was shafting a friendly country. Nor did he bother about playing footsie with radical elements, some of whom have been involved in terrorism in India. And he certainly didn’t care a whit about the bona fides of the farm laws, the logic behind them, the economic rationale underlying these laws.

The parallels continue: if the farmers’ demands grew from demanding a repeal of farm laws to other demands on minimum support prices etc., the truckers’ demands have also grown from demanding a reversal of border vaccine mandates, to an end to all such mandates across Canada. Quite like the farmers, the truckers too claim they will stay in Ottawa for the long haul; and just as in the truckers protest, if it continues for any length of time it will impose a big economic cost, the blocking of national highways by the farmers imposed a huge burden, not just on travellers but also on the economy. Of course, for all his wokeness, Trudeau can also be extremely hypocritical when it comes to protests.

A few months before he waded into the farmers protests, Trudeau was extremely firm in dealing with the tiny Wetʼsuwetʼen First Nation which had blockaded rail lines for over two weeks in February 2020 protesting against a gas pipeline that was passing through their traditional lands. At that time, once the protests started hurting, Trudeau who just a few months later pontificated to India on how Canada would always “defend the right of peaceful protest”, found the Wetʼsuwetʼen First Nation demand to be “unacceptable and untenable” and warned them that patience with the protests was running out and that the barricades set up by the protestors needed to come down. This was after just two weeks – in India, the farmers blockaded roads for nearly a year. A couple of days later, the Canadian cops used force and broke up the blockade. So much for defending the right of peaceful protest.

To be honest, despite hoisting Trudeau on his petard, it is difficult to disagree with him either on the breaking of the blockade or the vaccine mandates that his government has introduced. But it is the sheer hypocrisy of the Western politicians which makes it so tempting to take a dig at them when they face a situation of the sorts Trudeau is facing with the truckers. The supercilious sermonising of Western leaders which reflects their latent racism and their belief that only they know, understand and practise democratic values can be very galling and can put off any self-respecting, proud nation.

The entitlement that some of these Western leaders feel in commenting on the internal affairs of other countries is nothing but nostalgia of their colonial past. To persist with this attitude today is hardly going to go down well in countries that have shaken off the yoke of colonialism and shunned the white man’s burden. But try telling this to the woke in the West that their patronising attitude is repugnant and utterly unacceptable.

Sushant Sareen is Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.

Read all the Latest News, Breaking News and Coronavirus News here.

first published:January 31, 2022, 11:56 IST