Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, I want to speak briefly to Motion No. 79. First, I would like to thank Senator Housakos and Senator McPhedran for drawing the attention of the Senate to the disturbing acts committed by the Government of the People’s Republic of China against the Uighur people. The wording of this proposed motion is the same as the one adopted by the House of Commons on February 22, 2021, without the participation of cabinet and the parliamentary secretaries.
Some significant events have happened since that motion was adopted. First, the Biden administration clarified its position. In addition, the Government of Canada responded to the motion and recently took certain positions, including the recent decision to put forward a statement signed by 43 other countries, including the United States, at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The declaration states the following:
We are gravely concerned about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang and that there is widespread surveillance disproportionately targeting Uyghurs and members of other minorities and restrictions on fundamental freedoms and Uyghur culture. There are also reports of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children from their parents by authorities.
— We are talking here of the 44 countries in question, led by Canada —
— urge China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the High Commissioner, and to urgently implement the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s 8 recommendations related to Xinjiang, including by ending the arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities.
In the end, the International Olympic Committee said that it was impossible to move the 2022 Olympic Winter Games to another city outside China.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, David Shoemaker, said that relocating the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games “. . . would be next to impossible.”
Under these new circumstances, I think it would be helpful to amend the motion so that it reflects the new reality, as it is now translated by the action of the government and the position of the Olympic Committee.
Therefore, honourable senators, in amendment, I move:
That the motion be not now adopted, but that it be amended by replacing point (b) with the following:
“(b) given that, where possible, it has been the policy of the Government of Canada to act in concert with its allies when it comes to the recognition of genocide, the Senate call upon the Government of Canada to continue, in concert with its allies, to urge China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and to urgently implement the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s eight recommendations related to Xinjiang, including by ending the arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities; and”.
I propose that we support the position taken by our government and that this chamber give its support to the Government of Canada. Thank you.