Ottawa will play host next week to Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai. Why would we let this man into our country?
Bo was a Communist Party regional head when the Party declared war on the Falun Gong community in 1999. Two years later, he was governor of Liaonong province, where especially brutal torture and killing of Falun Gong practitioners occurred. The Matas- Kilgour report ( organharvestinvestigation.net) quotes a woman whose surgeon-husband removed corneas from 2,000 practitioners' eyes at a hospital in Bo's province while he was governor. All "donors" in this commercial organ-harvesting scheme were murdered. Other evidence of torture and crimes against humanity during this period prompted lawsuits against Bo in 10 countries. A related suit was filed with the Ontario Superior Court in 2005.
Just days before Bo's latest attempt to enter Canada, two Canadians originally from Liaonong province told an Ottawa press conference what befell their own Falun Gong family members in Liaonong while Bo governed there. Intimidation. Torture. Murder.
And journalists heard that Bo is on an RCMP watch-list of Chinese officials, is among 45 alleged perpetrators of crimes against humanity accepted by our federal government's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program and will face a civil lawsuit if human rights groups can serve him during a Canadian visit.
Stephen Harper has been a strong advocate of human rights in China. Officials have spoken out against Chinese espionage and the treatment of accused terrorist Huseyin Celil, and promised Canadians that trade won't trump human rights, or -- in Celil's case -- justify torture. Canadians want human rights and commerce balanced responsibly in our relationship with China.
Given all this, why was Bo invited in the first place? To appease the China business lobby? Were Ottawa bureaucrats overruling Mr. Harper's promise not to sacrifice human rights to trade?
One way or another, a decision on Bo will require all of the Prime Minister's gifts of leadership and moral clarity. Mechanisms are in place to bar Bo's entry. Canadians --and many suffering Chinese-- are watching.
<>By David Kilgour and David Harris. David Kilgour is a former Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific.
David Harris is senior fellow, Canadian Coalition for Democracies, www.canadiancoalition.com
© National Post 2007