Canada should join its allies in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of the Chinese communist regime’s human rights abuses, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said on Dec. 6.
O’Toole said he has been speaking with Canadian Olympic Committee athletes and representatives on how to express “our profound displeasure with the conduct of the regime,” without dashing Canadian athletes’ hopes of representing their country at the Games.
“We’re all proud of the men and women who trained so hard to wear our maple leaf—they should also wear our values abroad as well,” O’Toole said during a press conference on Parliament Hill.
In February, O’Toole had urged the Liberal government to press Olympic organizers to move the Games out of China because he said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was committing genocide against the Uyghur minority group in the Xinjiang region of China. At the time, Trudeau objected to the use of the word “genocide” to describe the situation in Xinjiang, saying the matter needed more investigation. The House of Commons later voted to declare China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority population a genocide, a vote Trudeau and his cabinet abstained from.
O’Toole said after his suggestion to move the games was dismissed, a diplomatic boycott is “the best thing we can do alongside our allies” to pressure Beijing on its human rights abuses but “not to make the athletes pay the price.”
O’Toole was also asked about the resignation of Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China, which came three months after the release of the two Canadians—Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor—who were imprisoned by Chinese authorities in what was widely seen as a case of hostage diplomacy, in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive of Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
“The Trudeau Government has mishandled the relationship with China since the early days of Mr. Trudeau’s time as prime minister,” O’Toole said.
“We had no ambassador for almost a year in between Mr. Barton, and Mr. [John] McCallum, who had to resign because of failures to be transparent with respect to the situation with the two Michaels.”
The Conservative leader said the Canada-China relationship has been “a mess,” and that the country needs a “principles-based approach” that shows that “our economic interests in China will not dominate our concerns about human rights.”
US Announces Diplomatic Boycott
On Dec. 6, the United States announced it is proceeding with a diplomatic boycott of the Games with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki saying no U.S. official delegation would be attending the Olympics in Beijing, but that American athletes would still have the “full support” from the government to participate in the competitions.
“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses,” Psaki said in a press conference.
Several U.S. legislators voiced their support for White House’s decision.
“America must not give its credibility to the Chinese Communist Party, which represses ethnic and religious minorities. Never again must the Olympics be awarded to a nation which so blatantly violates the human rights of its own citizens,” Democratic Senator Tim Kaine wrote on social media on Dec. 6.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner wrote on Facebook on Dec. 6 that a diplomatic boycott of the Games “sends a powerful message to the Chinese Communist Party that the United States will not turn a blind eye to the CCP’s increasing aggression globally and its disturbing human rights abuses.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also said on Dec. 3 that he was “considering” a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in order to “take a stand” for human rights.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also been considering a boycott against Beijing, although his spokesperson said last month that the UK government has not yet reached a decision.