Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured above, and all members of the Liberal cabinet were absent for a vote on the non-binding motion to protect religious freedom in China put forward by Conservative MP Michael Chong.

Trudeau, cabinet skip vote to condemn China's 'genocide' of religious minorities

  • February 24, 2021

OTTAWA -- MPs voted overwhelmingly to condemn the Chinese government for engaging in genocide against religious minorities in that country.

While this included all the Liberal MPs who voted, conspicuous in their absence was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all members of the Liberal cabinet who did not vote on the Fee. 22 motion. That had political opponents accusing the Liberal government of not standing up for human rights.

“There’s real suffering going on in China,” said Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole in a statement, adding “our values are not for sale and Mr. Trudeau needed to send that message today,” but didn’t.

MPs supported the non-binding motion — the recorded vote was 266-0, as not all 338 MPs voted — to protect religious freedom in China put forward by Conservative MP Michael Chong that calls Chinese government actions against that country’s Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims an act of genocide. The motion said “in the opinion of the House, the People’s Republic of China has engaged in actions consistent with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 260, commonly known as the ‘Genocide Convention,’ including detention camps and measures intended to prevent births as it pertains to Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.”

The motion also called on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2020 Winter Olympic Games from Beijing.

This is not the first time Canada’s parliamentarians have called what is going on in China “genocide,” nor is it the first time some Liberals have been more outspoken on the issue than Trudeau and cabinet.

Last fall, religious and human rights groups applauded when the federal Foreign Affairs and International Development subcommittee on International Human Rights issued a unanimous report saying the actions of the Chinese government constitutes a genocide of the Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region of the country.

Concerns over religious freedom in China go beyond just what is happening to Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims, with concerns over repression of Christian and other faith communities. According to a 2020 report of the United Commission on International Religious Freedom, “religious freedom conditions in China continue to deteriorate.”

“The communist Chinese government has created a high-tech surveillance state, utilizing facial recognition and artificial intelligence to monitor and harass Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong and other religions. Independent experts estimate that between 900,000 and 1.8 million Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and other Muslims have been detained in more than 1,300 concentration camps in Xinjiang,” the report stated.

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