Question Period: Canada-China Relations

By: The Hon. Jim Munson

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Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, my question is to the Government Representative in the Senate. There is an impressive list of prominent Canadians who have described the Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang as a genocide against the minority Uighur people — names such as Irwin Cotler, Lloyd Axworthy, Allan Rock, Yves Fortier and now former senator Roméo Dallaire, who knows a thing or two about genocide. The retired lieutenant-general said last week:

When there is massive abuses of human rights by a state . . . we all have the responsibility to go in and protect them . . .

You’re either a great nation that believes in its values and in what its flag stands for . . . or you’re not.

Those are the words of former senator Dallaire.

Why is the Canadian government reluctant to do the same and call it what it is; a genocide? Is it because it might jeopardize the negotiations, if there are any going on, to release the two Michaels, or is it because the Canadian government doesn’t believe it is a genocide?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. As I’ve said on a number of occasions, senator, this government is very preoccupied with the maltreatment and abuses that government is visiting upon the Uighur minority and indeed others. Canada is working with its allies to ensure that Canada’s position is well supported and in concert with its allies.

Senator Munson: Thank you for that. Could you give us an update on the dire Hong Kong situation; the suppression of those who speak out for human rights, democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of speech? Does the government know how many pro-democracy activists have been accepted by Canada in this country?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. I don’t have the specific answer at all, but I will make inquiries. Canada, though, has said that it will do its best to facilitate those who wish to come to Canada and is pursuing appropriate ways to do so.

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