214 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 79 PART 2 MARCH 2021
laws will be repealed, and the government will use a more democratic
process that considers their concerns going forward.
The treatment of the protestors and the passage of these laws are
breaches of democratic processes and are important issues within our legal
community. Lawyers generally work within a democratic system and
adhere to, and seek to maintain, the rule of law. When these ideals are
eroded in other jurisdictions, lawyers should speak out and support those
fighting for their rights. By raising awareness, we ensure that these issues
are not ignored and place pressure on governments to adhere to the principles
of democracy. By providing this support and condemning undemocratic
action, we seek to ensure that these models are not overthrown by
dictatorships, fascism or repressive nationalism.
In Canada, there are approximately 1.9 million people who identify as
South Asian.13 Accordingly, we see many Canadian individuals from these
communities raising their voices. Many of our South Asian colleagues at the
bar have been personally affected by these issues and have used their platforms
to raise concerns. However, their voices must be amplified by individuals
who may not feel directly affected by these issues. As lawyers, we
have a deeper understanding of the rule of law and the separation of powers
than the general public. We are also in a privileged position to have these
discussions and foster dialogue. It is human nature to feel uncomfortable
when unpacking unfamiliar issues. However, we should not allow this discomfort
to override our capacity for discourse.
In this instance, the issue is not whether you believe in privatization in
agriculture; it is the law and processes used to implement this model. If a
law or policy is unjust, do we as lawyers have an obligation to speak out?
Should we refuse to comment if it may seem too political? Alternatively, if
we speak out against one injustice, must we speak out against them all?
These are important questions that we as a legal community should be raising
and discussing. As individuals, we should be considering how we can
use our privileges to be allies for those whose voices may be muffled. We
should encourage others who may not experience similar inequities to
becomes allies as well, so we can grow. We should move past the denials of
systemic discrimination, even within our legal community, and focus on
where we go from here. It is vital that as a community we acknowledge
injustice in our democratic systems by actively engaging in difficult but
meaningful conversations. It is time to move forward, together and better
1. Yen Nee Lee, “Farmers’ Protest Could Set Back
India’s Economic Recovery from Covid, Says Minister”,
CNBC (22 December 2020), online: <www.