Minister Trip to Beijing Games Called ‘Flip-flop’

July 17, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015


David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, will be attending the Olympics in Beijing, apparently.  (
David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, will be attending the Olympics in Beijing, apparently. (

TORONTO—The Canadian government has been criticized over news that Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson will attend the Beijing Olympic Games, set to begin Aug. 8.

The China Rights Network issued a statement Tuesday calling the minister’s planned attendance “caving in” to the Chinese regime.

CRN pointed out that in the aftermath of violent repression in Tibet, the prime minister had indicated he would not attend the Games’ opening ceremonies or send high-level officials.

But on Monday, the government announced that Emerson will lead a delegation to Beijing from Aug. 7 to 11 that will also include the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Sport, Helena Guergis.

“We are very disappointed”, said Michael Craig, Chair of China Rights Network. Craig had praised Harper’s earlier announcement, calling it a “limited boycott.”

Though Harper hadn’t tied the decision not to attend the Games to human rights, many regarded that as the reason. The prime minister has been outspoken about Chinese human rights abuses in the past, including the case of Huseyincan Celil, a Canadian citizen imprisoned in China.

Rights groups have said the promises made by the Chinese regime to improve human rights ahead of the Olympic Games have not been met. Instead, they say abuses have increased in an effort to eliminate dissent and portray a harmonious situation during the Games.

.of human rights, focusing only on sport.

“I am very much looking forward to attending the Games and supporting our Canadian athletes,” Emerson was quoted as saying. “It will be a tremendous experience to see them compete with the best in the world.”

The news was played up the next day by Xinhua, the Communist regime’s mouthpiece. Chinese state-run media have reported prominently about foreign officials’ plans to attend the Games.

“The Canadian government talks up human rights in China but in this instance where rhetoric could be backed up by action, the government has failed to demonstrate the courage of its convictions,” said Craig.

“Too many governments, corporations and IOC officials kowtow to the Chinese government proving, consistently, that for them money talks louder than the principles of human rights.”