Question Period: Canada-China Relations – Sen. Munson

By: The Hon. Jim Munson

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Hon. Jim Munson: Senator Gold, it has been mentioned that it was two years ago today that the two Michaels were picked off the streets in China and thrown into jail. Former British diplomat Charles Parton was a good friend of Michael Kovrig when they both served their embassies in Beijing many years ago. He has launched a letter-writing campaign — and he has a lot of support from very serious people — for ordinary people to express their disquiet and disgust with what is described as Beijing’s resort to the practice of hostage diplomacy.

Diplomat Parton would like everyone, including Canadians, to send their letters or Christmas cards via embassies to the two Michaels. The address here in Ottawa for the Chinese Embassy is 515 St. Patrick Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 5H3.

Senator Gold, would the government support this and would it be helpful to show China, not so much the government’s concern, but ordinary Canadians’ concerns?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Senator Munson, first of all, thank you for raising this issue. Your own experience in and with China gives you a special insight into the importance of these issues.

I think it’s important that every effort be made, through every means possible, for Canadians to register not only their shock and horror at the arbitrary detention and imprisonment of the two Michaels, but their support to the two Michaels and their families who have languished now for two years incarcerated in China. Whether or not that will help may perhaps be the wrong question to ask. Everything that we can do to register our support — civil society, governments and others — to work towards their release has got to be the right thing to do.

Senator Munson: I have a brief supplementary question. I haven’t spent two years in a Chinese jail, but I spent two days. It’s not a very nice place, let me tell you. I’m still sorting out my views on the question I’m about to ask.

The Olympic Winter Games are in 2022, and they are in China. Let’s hope the two Michaels are out by then. Is the government thinking about what it might do regarding China when it comes to sending our Canadian athletes to China in 2022? We boycotted Russia in 1980, and the invasion of Russia in Afghanistan. I’m still thinking about it myself and whether it would be a good thing to do or not, but it is about human rights. We’ve talked about the Uighurs, we’ve talked about what’s going on in Hong Kong and the suppression of democracy. Does the government have a view on what it may or may not do when it comes to the winter games in light of the two Michaels?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. The short answer is that I do not know if the government has arrived at a view, but all aspects of our relationship with China are being looked at very seriously these days and have been for some time. But more than that, I would be speculating and that’s not really what I should be doing in this capacity here. Thank you.

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