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Farmers’ agitation: Justin Trudeau raises protests with Narendra Modi

This was the first time the two leaders had spoken after India warned Canada that relations could be affected if they continued to comment on the issue

Anita Joshua New Delhi Published 12.02.21, 02:31 AM
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. File picture

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the “recent protests” during his telephone conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

This was the first time the two leaders had spoken after India warned Canada in December that relations could be affected if the Canadian leadership continued to comment on the farmers’ agitation. Trudeau had then spoken up for the farmers’ right to protest peacefully.


According to the readout of Wednesday’s conversation, issued by Trudeau’s office, “the leaders discussed Canada and India’s commitment to democratic principles, recent protests, and the importance of resolving issues through dialogue.”

None of this was mentioned in either Modi’s tweet on the conversation or the readout issued by the external affairs ministry subsequently.

“Was happy to receive a call from my friend @JustinTrudeau. Assured him that India would do its best to facilitate supplies of Covid vaccines sought by Canada. We also agreed to continue collaborating on other important issues like Climate Change and the global economic recovery,” Modi had tweeted on Wednesday night.

The Indian readout too focused mostly on New Delhi’s vaccine diplomacy: “Prime Minister Trudeau informed Prime Minister Modi about Canada’s requirements of Covid-19 vaccines from India. Prime Minister assured the Canadian PM that India would do its best to support Canada’s vaccination efforts, just as it had done for many other countries already.”

The Canadian readout acknowledged India’s efforts in promoting vaccine production: “Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Modi spoke about India’s significant efforts in promoting vaccine production and supply, which have provided vital support to countries around the world. The two leaders agreed to work together on access to vaccines.”

Trudeau’s call to Modi came four days after Canadian shadow health minister Michelle Rempel Garner asked his administration whether it had reached out to India, and the Prime Minister specifically, for Covid vaccines. On January 28, the Indian external affairs ministry had listed Canada among the countries where vaccines were likely to be sent on a commercial basis.

Further, according to the Canadians, the two Premiers reaffirmed their common interest in a free and open Indo-Pacific, and the importance of working together on global challenges such as climate change, strengthening global trade and reinforcing the rules-based international order.

The Indian readout did not go into the specifics of the discussion on the Indo-Pacific but contained a reference to committing the two countries to fighting the challenge of climate change together.

After highways were dug up and water cannons used on November 26 to stop farmers from moving towards Delhi to pressure the Modi government to repeal the three contentious farm laws, Trudeau had in December spoken up for their right to protest peacefully.

India had responded with a warning that such comments could affect bilateral ties but Trudeau iterated his views at a media conference.

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