While addressing Sikh participants from across Canada on November 30, on a virtual meeting organized to celebrate the birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “Canada will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protest.”
These words were spoken in the context of the physical force being used by the Indian police against protesting farmers, many of them Sikhs, in parts of north India.
It did not take much time for the rebuke to reach India and invoke a plethora of reactions – the Indian government strongly objected to it, calling the comments ill-informed and unwarranted, while the farmers, especially Sikhs from Punjab, saw it as a shot in the arm.
They expressed their gratitude to Justin ‘Singh’ Trudeau, as he is popularly and fondly known. Most of the Indian media condemned Trudeau for ‘interfering in the internal matter of India’.
Making these comments benefits Trudeau and the protesting farmers, but also reflects the realities of the globalized world.
Sikh political lobbying is a strong force in Canadian politics, which becomes apparent looking at the sheer numbers of public representatives. The current House of Commons has 18 Sikh MPs out of the total 338, making it a decent 5.32% share, compared to India’s 2.39% (13 Sikh MPs out of 543 in Lok Sabha).
This sheer numerical logic makes all the three major federal political parties of Canada (Trudeau’s Liberals, the Conservatives, and the NDP) sensitive to the affairs and sentiments of the Sikh community.