Canadian Senate slammed for not passing motion recognizing Uyghur genocide in China

By a four-vote margin, with 13 abstentions, the Senate also refused to issue a demand to move the Olympics out of China in 2022

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      A group of Canadians of Chinese ancestry is upset about a recent vote in the Senate of Canada.

      On June 29, senators voted 33-29 against a nongovernmental motion expressing that the People's Republic of China has perpetrated genocide against Uyghurs and other Turkik Muslims.

      Another 13 senators abstained, which meant that the motion was defeated.

      In addition, the motion sought the Senate's approval to demand that the International Olympic Committee move the 2022 Winter Olympics away from China if its government "continues this genocide".

      The Chinese-Canadian Concerned Group on the Chinese Communist Party's Human Rights Violations, a.k.a. the Concern Group, said that the vote demonstrates that the Senate is "a body who willfully ignores blatant facts and is completely disconnected from the concerns and wishes of the Canadian majority".

      The Concern Group alleged in a news release that the vote "is symptomatic of the Chinese government's infiltration and influence in Canadian politics", without providing any direct evidence of this.

      It alleged that a B.C. senator, former Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada president and CEO Yuen Pau Woo, echoed the Chinese government's party line.

      That came in connection with CBC reporting that Woo said Canada should not be commenting on China's human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in light of Canada's own treatment of Indigenous peoples.

      In fact, Woo said the opposite.

      "When it comes to the treatment of Indigenous peoples and minorities, repression and forced assimilation only leads to longer-term problems for society at large," Woo stated in his speech. "Canadians are still wrestling with those longer-term problems in our society and it is impossible for us to not express concern over what we hear about Xinjiang. We do it because we recognize our common humanity with Uyghurs and all peoples in China, and out of a desire for China to succeed as a nation of many ethnicities”.

      B.C. senators Mobina Jaffer and Yonah Martin were among those who voted in favour of the motion.

      In addition to Woo, one other B.C. senator, Bev Busson, voted against the motion. Busson is a former commanding officer of the RCMP in B.C.

      Jaffer, Woo, and Busson are all part of the Independent Senators Group, who were appointed by Liberal prime ministers.

      Woo is the facilitator of the 41-member ISG. Most of its members were among those who voted against the motion.

      Martin is a Conservative senator.

      The fifth B.C. senator, Larry Campbell, was absent for the vote.

      A spokesperson for the Concern Group, former Sing Tao newspaper editor Victor Ho, said in the news release that the Senate's vote "exposes the flawed, undemocratic nature of the appointment process and its lack of accountability".

      Ho pointed out that China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson applauded the Canadian senators who voted against the motion.

      "The CCP’s official praise of Canadian senators is actually a public insult to these senators in Canadian eyes,” Ho declared. 

      Another Concern Group spokesperson, Mabel Tung, took aim at Woo's logic.

      “Is it the case that those who have made mistakes cannot ever post criticisms of others? Can only those who are faultless critique others?" Tung said. "Which political parties have never made a mistake? According to this logic, even opposition parties cannot critique the government.

      "Senator Yuen Pau Woo’s statement, by obscuring facts, are an affront to justice and appear to be an attempt to shield China from criticisms for its human rights abuses, in direct contradiction to Canadian values.”

      Early last month, former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler cowrote an article explaining why he believes that China's Uyghur genocide is "undeniable".

      "Uyghurs suffer unlivable conditions, torture, and sexual violence inside the camps, and are subjected to institutionalized enslavement across China," Cotler and cowriter Yonah Diamond maintained. "Since 2017, the government has forcibly transferred Uyghur children – many of them “orphaned” as a result of losing both parents to internment or forced labor – to a network of state-run facilities in Han Chinese settings.

      "The government is simultaneously subjecting Uyghurs to systematic mass forced sterilization and coercive birth-prevention policies, destroying the group’s reproductive capacity."

      In February, 266 of 338 Canadian MPs voted in favour of a motion in Parliament declaring China's actions in its northwestern province of Xinjiang a "genocide".

      Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau  abstained on behalf of the Canadian government. The prime minister and all other cabinet ministers were not in the House for the vote.