Canada Ticks China’s Genocide of Uighur PeopleFebruary 23, 2021
Canada joined the United States in calling China’s mistreatment of Uighur people a genocide in a vote yesterday.
Observers say the contentious parliamentary vote is likely to further raise diplomatic tensions between China and Canada.
Conservative lawmakers won the all-party support of the vote in the House of Commons. The vote approves a non-binding motion recognizing China’s actions in Xinjiang as genocide against Muslim Uighurs.
Canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau and senior members of the cabinet did not attend the vote on Monday.
The vote came against the backdrop of all-but-frozen relations between Beijing and Ottawa.
China has imprisoned two Canadian men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. The latter was arrested in December 2018 on a US extradition warrant. Canada has described the men’s detention as “hostage diplomacy.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, the only minister present, abstained.
He says, “We remain deeply disturbed by horrific reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang. Including the use of arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilization.”
“The free vote in Parliament ensures each member can (make a determination) based on available evidence. We welcome parliamentarians working together and debating this critical issue.”
A similar attempt on a vote in the UK failed earlier this month.
But the move is likely to bring a host of new political challenges for the PM, writes The Guardian UK.
The surprise came when dozens of Liberal MPs supported the Conservative motion. It passed by a 266-0 margin in the 338-seat Commons.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole blasted Trudeau and his ministers for their absence in the House during the vote.
He says the “co-ordinated absence” of Trudeau and his ministers is “shameful.”
O’Toole isn’t worried about any economic blowback from China.
O’Toole says the motion was necessary to send a clear message to China.
“This sends a clear and unequivocal signal that we will stand up for human rights and the dignity of human rights. Even if it means sacrificing some economic opportunity”.