and China: The time is now
by David Kilgour, MP for Edmonton Southeast
Seminar with the Dalai Lama
Negotiations: Building Peace through Dialogue
Room, Chateau Laurier
24 April 2004
Your Holiness, you told the Canadian
Club yesterday that you have a lot of friends. We’d hope that your friends now
include about 31 million Canadians after this triumphant—but modest—trip.
Let me only say that your visit to
Parliament Hill was like nothing I’ve ever seen in 25 years. You were swarmed
by both Parliamentarians and people who work on the Hill. Its seems to me that
at least a hundred MPs and Senators had their photo taken with you. One lady you
shook hands with was crying.
But ladies and gentlemen, is the time
for talk without action not over?
is very easy to voice bromides about human rights in a policy vacuum. The true
test is assuring that they are applied universally—forming the basis of each
foreign policy decision we make.
Human rights abuses in Tibet, including
the right to sustainable development, continue to be appalling—as we all know.
Yet if the rights of every child, woman
or man in Tibet are not important to Canadians and their governments, should we
all not drop the long-held view that human rights are a central feature of
Canadian foreign policy?
Standing in Centre Block yesterday many
present heard Thubten Samdup of the Canada-Tibet Committee say: “Tibet has had
enough sympathy. What it needs now is action.” Act we must, and without delay.
As the new chair of the Foreign Affairs
Subcommittee on Human Rights, I plan to seek colleagues’ approval next week to
make the situation in Tibet our first order of business in our upcoming study on
human rights in China.
Finally, it’s disappointing that
no-one from the Department of Foreign Affairs was able to attend today. The
words we have heard here from His Holiness and others should be heard by every
foreign policymaker in Canada.