Helen Sullivan, The Guardian. 11 Aug 2021.
Erin O’Toole says Canada should consider a boycott of Games amid worsening ties with China and jailing of Canadian Michael Spavor
The leader of Canada’s Conservative opposition party has warned that it may soon be too dangerous for Canadians to travel to China for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Speaking at a news conference on Ontario on Tuesday, leader Erin O’Toole said: “We are approaching a point where it won’t be safe for Canadians, including Olympic athletes, to travel to China.”
O’Toole made his comments shortly before Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor was sentenced by China to 11 years in prison for spying. Spavor was arrested in 2018, days after the arrest in Canada of a senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, drawing accusations Beijing was engaging in “hostage diplomacy”.
Diplomats from dozens of countries gathered at Canada’s embassy in Beijing on Wednesday to hear the Spavor verdict. The fate of a fellow Canadian, former diplomat Michael Kovrig, remains unclear.
Meng was arrested in connection with possible violations of trade sanctions on Iran.
O’Toole was speaking after a court rejected the appeal of a third Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, whose prison term in a drug case was abruptly increased to death following Meng’s arrest.
Asked about the winter Games, O’Toole said: “Yes Canada should be considering a boycott.
“And I’ve said we’re going to be watching the decision very closely. Beijing has to know that the world is watching the genocide taking place against the Uyghurs. They’ve watched what’s been happening in Hong Kong and the situation with Mr Schellenberg, Mr Spavor and Mr Kovrig.”
He said Canada would have to think “long and hard on whether we reward a country like that with the Games”.
Read the full report here.