The majority of Canadians support boycotting the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics due to China’s human rights record, while many are also concerned for the safety of the athletes who will be competing, according to a new poll.
Conducted by the Vancouver-based Research Co., the poll shows 56 percent of Canadians support boycotting the Olympics, scheduled to take place in Beijing from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20, 2022.
The level of support for a boycott remains the same as in a survey conducted by Research Co. in August, when Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were still imprisoned in China. The two were detained in December 2018 in what was widely seen as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the United States.
Research Co. president Mario Canseco said the results indicate that the Canadian public has not changed its negative view of the Chinese communist regime, despite the release of Kovrig and Spavor in September.
“We may not have the full-fledge boycott that is needed, or that most people want, in that sense,” Canseco told Toronto Star. “It’s 56 (percent) who say let’s do something that’s more meaningful.”
The poll also shows that 70 percent of Canadians are worried about the safety of the country’s athletes who will be travelling to China to compete in the Games.
Almost three-quarters of Canadians (74 percent) also believe athletes who want to protest China’s human rights record during the Olympics should be free to do so, and 71 percent think the International Olympic Committee should not punish those who do speak out.
Persecuted groups under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) include Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans, Falun Gong adherents, and pro-democracy Hong Kongers.
On Dec. 8, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will join its allies in a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics, following the U.S. government’s announcement that it will not send any diplomatic or official representatives to the event.
More Poll Findings
The idea of a boycott is shared by similar proportions of Canadians as those who voted in this year’s federal election: the Liberal Party at 61 percent, the Conservative Party at 59 percent, and the NDP at 58 percent, according to the poll.
As for the differences between provinces, a boycott is favoured more by respondents in Ontario (60 percent), British Columbia (59 percent), and Quebec (56 percent), while slightly less so in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (51 percent), Atlantic Canada (50 percent) and Alberta (49 percent).
Canadians have also found other ways to protest against the CCP’s human rights abuses and show support for a boycott of the Games, with 45 percent of respondents saying they will make a conscious effort to refrain from watching broadcasts of the event.
The negative view of communist China’s rights violations is also reflected in consumer behaviour. According to the poll, a total of 52 percent of Canadians claim to check labels “all the time” or “most of the time” to see where the products they buy were manufactured.
Two-thirds (68 percent) say they avoid buying Chinese goods “all the time” (15 percent), “most of the time” (20 percent), or “some of the time” (33 percent), while only 32 percent say they never refrain from buying products made in China.
Due to concerns of slave labour, on Nov. 24 Conservative Sen. Leo Housakos introduced Bill S-204, which seeks to “prohibit the importation of goods manufactured or produced wholly or in part” in China’s Xinjiang province, where reports indicate that the CCP is undertaking large-scale human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims and other Turkic minorities.
The Research Co. survey was conduct online between Dec. 4 and Dec. 6, among a representative national sample of 1,000 adult Canadians. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.