A Kelowna city councillor of Indian descent voiced her support for farmers protesting the actions of her home country’s government.
Following a council meeting on Monday, Dec. 7, Coun. Mohini Singh told her fellow councillors that the unrest in India, specifically near its capital city Delhi, has “hit home, very hard.”
The protests were sparked by new agricultural laws imposed by the Indian government. Those laws, in part, allow farmers to sell products directly to private buyers, rather than middlemen adhering to the state-controlled minimum support price (MSP), which since 2009 has safeguarded farmers’ profits. While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stated the laws will allow farmers to earn more money by opening new streams of revenue, farmers have expressed fears that private buyers won’t adhere to government-set minimum prices.
“Far be it for us to comment about international issues here at this table, but I felt it was important to bring it up,” Singh said, stating that 80 to 90 per cent of tree fruit producers in the Okanagan are of Punjabi descent.
“They are extremely worried and concerned about their family and their relatives who are out protesting India for just laws to help them do something simple, continue farming.”
Some of those farmers attended a protest staged in Kelowna over the weekend. The demonstration took to the road, with a kilometres-long line of sign-donning, honking vehicles taking over the centre lane of Highway 97 as they made their way to Prospera Place. The protest is one of many that have taken place across Canada in recent weeks.
“I just want to say I support in their efforts to earn a decent wage,” Singh said.
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