Updated: Dec 7, 2021
The federal government is facing pressure both domestic and international to implement a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that government officials will avoid the games to protest human rights abuses in China, although athletes are permitted to compete.
“Athletes will be participating, we will be rooting for the athletes from home…this is just an indication that it cannot be business as usual, that not sending a diplomatic delegation sends that message,” she said.
Psaki said the U.S. has informed its allies of its decision but will “leave it to them” to make their own call about whether to attend in full or in part.
Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge says a Canadian decision hadn’t been reached.
“Canada remains deeply disturbed by the troubling reports of human rights violations in China. We were notified of the U.S. decision and we will continue to discuss this matter with our partners and allies,” the statement reads.
However, both the NDP and the Tories alike are proposing a diplomatic boycott.
“We’ve been proposing moving the games, there wasn’t any interest by the Trudeau government in that. We proposed a diplomatic boycott – I think that’s the best thing we can do alongside our allies to show pressure but not to make the athletes pay the price for the conduct in Beijing,” said Erin O'Toole.
O’Toole equally called for a “principled-based approach” that shows Canada’s “economic interests in China will not dominate our concerns about human rights.”
NDP MP and foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson similarly noted that Canadian parliamentarians have been banned from China, after the superpower targeted the parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights, which in the last Parliament was examining the treatment of the Uyghur population.
“If we did send a diplomatic mission, China is in fact choosing who gets to go on that mission…that in and of itself, to me, is problematic. But also I think there is huge problems having the Olympics in Beijing knowing that there’s genocide happening in that country,” she said.