Delta council will consider a motion by Mayor George Harvie on Monday to stand in solidarity with protesting farmers in India.
Harvie’s motion — introduced at council on Monday, March 29 — resolves that “the City of Delta stands in solidarity with the Indian farmers and supports their right to speak out against these laws and any repressive measures against Indian citizens and their right to expression and liberty.”
Indian farmers have been met with tear gas and water cannons while protesting new laws enacted by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September that they say will subject them to corporate exploitation by driving down prices for their products.
Those against the acts state that the new legislation opens farmers up to being exploited by larger corporations and that there was very little consultation when the acts were passed.
The acts remove a government-agreed minimum price for farmers’ goods, which are sold at auctions in India. Without a minimum price, farmers believe that big companies could drive down the prices and it could be difficult to make money in years when there is a surplus of product available.
Protests began shortly after the acts were passed and have spread all across the world, including all corners of the Lower Mainland. They are now considered one of the largest protests in history.
India produces about 68 per cent of the world’s spices, with top exported products consisting of pepper, cardamom, chilli, ginger and turmeric. India is also a massive producer of rice, wheat, milk, fruits and vegetables.
Those protesting believe the acts could have major ripple effects for food all across the world.
In his motion, Harvie references Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the B.C. government, political parties and others across the country speaking out against the legislative changes in India and subsequent crackdown on protesters.
“Lending our voice to support India’s farmers highlights the fact that local farmers around the world are indispensable to the social and economic fabric of all countries,” Harvie said in his motion.
Delta council will consider Harvie’s motion at it’s next regular meeting on Monday, April 12 at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said he will be bringing forward a motion of his own on April 12, asking Surrey council to join him in this motion “and show that Surrey stands in solidarity with the farmers in India,” according to an emailed statement on Tuesday (April 6).
“Many residents of Surrey have family and friends in India who have been adversely impacted by the farming bills passed in their ancestral land,” McCallum noted. “The changes affecting the farmers in India threaten their livelihood and their protests have been met with a heavy hand by the Government of India.”
He added with April being Sikh Heritage Month and also marking Vaisakhi, “it is timely and fitting that City Council supports this important issue that affects so many of Surrey’s Indian community.”
— with files from Ben Lypka and Lauren Collins, Black Press Media; and Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press