WINNIPEG — A collection of cars took to the Perimeter Highway Sunday morning in an act of protest towards the Indian government.
Amid rising violence between farmers and police in India, thousands of people across Canada are showing their solidarity through peaceful protests.
The protesters are expressing support for farmers from India’s Punjab region after the Indian government passed a series of agricultural laws in September that farmers say jeopardize their livelihoods.
“Right now, the Indian government wants to run these farms as a corporate sector,” said Gursewak Grewal, co-organizer of the protest. “They want to destroy the farmers.”
Grewal said farms in India are much smaller than in Canada, with most being under 20 acres in size.
The new laws stop farmers from selling crops such as grain to the government at a fixed cost, forcing them to sell privately to buyers and open them up to exploitation by big corporations.
“We stand with farmers, we stand with labour, and we stand with the Indian labour and middle class,” Grewal said.
Organizers of the ‘Car Drive Protest’ in Winnipeg said they were expecting hundreds of people in cars to join.
“There are about 50,000 people in this rally, it’s my estimation,” said Grewal. “It is about 35 kilometres long.”
Police and RCMP were stationed at various intersections along the Perimeter Highway.
“The RCMP, along with Winnipeg Police Service, Springfield Police and CN Police, are on scene in different locations around the perimeter, in regards to this rally. Because of the sudden increase in traffic volume, additional police resources have been placed at the larger intersections. Our main focus at this time is to ensure the safety of everyone involved,” said an RCMP spokesperson in an email to CTV News.
Under Manitoba’s current code red restrictions, gatherings with more than five people are not permitted.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was among the first world leaders to express support for the farmers’ right to protest, reiterated that support.
“Canada will always stand up for the right of peaceful protest anywhere around the world. And we’re pleased to see moves towards de-escalation and dialogue,” Trudeau said.
Protests have already taken place in Toronto, Saskatoon and Halifax.
-With files from CTV’s Ross Anderson