It comes as White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed on Monday that the US government “will not send any diplomatic or official representation” to the Olympics next February, citing “genocide and crimes against the Olympics. ongoing humanity of the regime in Xinjiang and other human rights violations. “
O’Toole had admitted earlier today that questions about a boycott are difficult given the hard work and training of Canadian athletes hoping to wear the maple leaf in competition.
“They should also carry our values abroad,” said O’Toole, noting that he has spoken over the months with athletes planning to compete to understand the effects on them.
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“This is an important issue and it is something that I have struggled with,” he added, describing a diplomatic boycott as the best option at the moment.
“I think it’s the best thing we can do alongside our allies to push but not to make the athletes pay the price. “
NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Supports Diplomatic Boycott of Upcoming Beijing Olympics
NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson also expressed support for a diplomatic boycott.
She highlighted Beijing’s decision in March 2021 to impose bans on several Canadian lawmakers who had worked on a subcommittee report released in October 2020 that concluded that China’s persecution of the Uyghur minority ethnic group constitutes genocide.
“This means that if we have sent a diplomatic mission, China actually chooses who should participate in that mission … which in itself is a problem for me,” said McPherson, who is among those banned.
READ MORE: Vote recognizes China’s treatment of Uyghurs as genocide
She also referred to the vote in the House of Commons in February 2021 in which MPs affirmed the recognition of a genocide perpetrated by the Chinese government against the Uyghurs.
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This motion was adopted without dispute, with 266 votes in favor and the Liberal cabinet abstaining.
There was no vote against.
“I think we need to send a message to Beijing that the world is watching, the world is paying attention, and we are not going to allow this to go unchallenged,” McPherson concluded.
What is a diplomatic boycott?
A concept of a diplomatic boycott is different from that of a broader boycott.
While a normal boycott would typically see everyone involved in an event agreeing not to participate, concerns about an outright boycott of the Beijing Olympics are that it would unfairly penalize athletes who wish to compete this year. in China despite the country’s human rights violations.
Athletes train hard for years to qualify for the Olympics.
A diplomatic boycott, on the other hand, specifically refers to non-athletes. This would see countries that agree to participate in a boycott pledging not to send diplomatic missions or representatives to attend the ceremonies and events themselves.
Normally, participating countries usually send official representatives of their governments.
For example, the former Governor General of Canada, David Johnson, attended the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for six days as the country’s official representative.
But China faces growing global pressure over its persecution of Uyghurs, its crushing of internal dissent – including in Hong Kong – and the arbitrary detentions of two Canadians, who have since been released, in what was widely seen as a hostage-taking.
READ MORE: Peng Shuai: Women’s tennis tour suspends events in China over concerns
In addition, the regime’s contempt and aggression towards the rules-based international order has heightened concerns in a growing number of countries about the need to unite to publicly challenge Beijing’s conduct.
“Over the past three years, we have seen a China that is much more aggressive than ever before,” said Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, senior researcher at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and fellow from the administration board. of the International Council of Canada.
“We are seeing a new China. “
Added to this are international fears for the well-being of tennis star Peng Shuai, who disappeared from public view last month after alleging that a senior Chinese official had sexually assaulted her.
Concerns about her safety have since led the Women’s Tennis Association to suspend tournaments in China.
Government engaged in conversations around Beijing 2022 Olympics
A spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said on Monday that the question of whether to implement a diplomatic boycott was a matter of discussion between Canada and the United States.
“Canada remains deeply troubled by disturbing reports of human rights violations in China,” press secretary Syrine Khoury said in an email.
“We will continue to discuss this issue with our closest partner. “
With files from Global’s David Akin.