Former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler and an all-party alliance of MPs call for Canada to vote down countries known for their human rights violations – Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Cuba – as they seek re-election to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Michelle Zilio reports for the Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau.
From the Globe and Mail report by Michelle Zilio:
The call for Canada to vote down countries known for their human rights violations comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government looks to rebrand Canada on the world stage and re-engage with countries the former Conservative administration distanced itself from. For instance, the government agreed to talks for an extradition treaty with China last month following the release of Canadian missionary Kevin Garratt from a Chinese prison.
Human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler was joined by human-rights activists, representatives from non-government organizations and members of the Raoul Wallenberg all-party parliamentary caucus at a press conference in Ottawa Wednesday. The group urged the government not to let its interest in re-engagement with countries known to violate human rights interfere with Canada’s vote at the UN Human Rights Council.
“Voting to put China on the Human Rights Council would be like picking the fox to guard the hen’s house while he was still wiping feathers off his mouth from his last meal,” said Chinese human-rights activist and dissident Yang Jianli. “I urge Canada … to lead collective action among democracies and openly vote a ‘no’ vote on China.”
“People in these countries really see Canada as having the potential to be a leader in the promotion and protection of human rights, and [one that] can mobilize other fellow democracies at a time when there appears to be a dearth of leadership within the European community, the Latin American community, amongst even follow democracies,” Mr. Cotler said.