For Immediate Release
Canada China Business Council bars human rights group from Business Forum
(Montreal, 4 September 2009) –The Canada Tibet Committee (CTC) is urging Trade Minister Stockwell Day to decline the Canada China Business Council’s (CCBC) invitation to speak at its September 15 Business Forum, because the CCBC is blocking participation by the CTC, a human rights organization.
CTC executive director Dermod Travis responded to an open invitation to CCBC’s event at the CCBC website, and registered the CTC under the non-member status. But within days, CCBC’s public affairs director Victor Hayes declined Travis’ registration, stating that CTC’s presence would be ‘inappropriate’ because of CTC’s “political” mandate.
"The CCBC opened the Business Forum to the public by offering a non-member registration on its website," said Travis. "The CCBC can not arbitrarily draw a line after the fact as to which Canadians are welcome at their events and which Canadians are not. It's either open or it’s not."
According to Hayes, the forum is “purely a trade development event.” But the CTC contends that a human rights perspective at the forum will be of value to all participants, and that trade and human rights are inseparable.
This view is shared by the Canadian government, which states that it expects Canadian firms "to reflect our values and international commitments whether in Canada or abroad.” According to the government, it "proactively raise(s) Corporate Social Responsibility with Canadian companies who have business interests in China, including Tibet."
"The CCBC appears to forget that this event is being held in Toronto, Canada,” Travis said. "While it may be standard practice in China to bar those with differing opinions from CCBC events, one would hope that the practice hasn't taken hold at their events in Canada."
The CTC also criticized the CCBC for playing both sides of the fence by claiming not to be a political organization, while providing forums for political leaders from both Canada and China to espouse political views. In June, the CCBC hosted an Ottawa speech by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi which most independent observers considered to be political in nature. Two journalists were barred by the CCBC from covering that event.
The Canada Tibet Committee is an independent non-governmental organisation of Tibetans and non-Tibetans living in Canada, who are concerned about the continuing human rights violations and lack of democratic freedom in Tibet.
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For more information:
CTC Executive Director