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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Opinion: Time to think about Olympic boycott?

November 9, 2007

Clair Hoy

National Affairs, Caledonia Citizen

It's been more than two decades now since then prime minister Brian
Mulroney won the respect of much of the western world by pushing the
reluctant Commonwealth and U.S. leaders to impose a boycott against
South Africa's racist apartheid regime.

It is easy to forget now after all this time - and long after the death
of that abhorrent regime - that Mulroney took considerable political
heat for it. It is also easy to forget that whatever you may think of
Mulroney - and whatever he may or may not have done in other areas of
his political career - his steadfast support for South Africa's
oppressed black majority was a point of legitimate pride for Canada.

Fast forward now to current Prime Minster Stephen Harper like Mulroney,
a Conservative - and his gutsy and honorable decision this week to offer
a redcarpet welcome to Parliament Hill of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled
spiritual leader.

Following the lead of U.S. President George Bush - who, despite what you
usually read and hear about him in the predominately left-leaning media,
actually does get some things right - Harper in effect thumbed his nose
at the rantings and ravings of the dictatorial Chinese government and
welcomed the Dalai Lama with full honors.

It is interesting to note that while China, as you'd expect, claims this
action will "gravely undermine" the relationship between itself and
Canada, Harper replied that he wasn't about to sell out Canada's push
for human rights in China in return for the "almighty dollar."

What is really telling about this - and about Mulroney's strong backing
of freedom in South Africa back in the 1980s - is that the Conservative
leaders' actions come in sharp contrast to those of the Liberal
governments which have run this country throughout the intervening years.

Indeed, the Liberals consistently talk a good game about the pursuit of
freedom - and accuse Conservatives of being no-account bigots on that
score - yet it seems to be the Conservatives, not the Liberals, who are
not subjected to the bully-boy tactics of their international critics,
regardless of how much money is tied up in intergovernmental trade.

Even Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, a true Liberal apparently,
decided against hosting a function in Ontario for the Dalai Lama. And
while Paul Martin did meet briefly with the Tibetan leader in 2004, it
was a brief meeting held in the private home of a Roman Catholic
archbishop, far from the prying eyes of the media or the Chinese.

China, as everyone knows, is one of the world's worst human rights
abusers. Yet we continue to trade with them - and they continue to flood
our markets with junk, much of which has had to be taken back to the
store for various reasons of late - and no doubt we'll be all aflutter
when they host the next Olympics.

Yet Liberals - unlike the NDP it must be said - continue to be reluctant
to meet the Dalai Lama for fear of upsetting the tyrants who run China
with an iron fist. China, assuming the rest of the world knows nothing
about their bloodstained history in Tibet, continues to insist that the
peace-loving Dalai Lama is a separatist who uses his religion to
camouflage his true intentions.

It is to laugh. Or cry.

While China flatly denies human rights abuses - despite mountains of
evidence to the contrary - the Dalai Lama estimates that since he was
forced to flee his homeland in 1959 when China forcefully took over the
country a half million Tibetans have died at the hands of the Chinese.
He says the suppression of religion, language and culture is getting
worse, and there is no reason not to believe him on that score, despite
China's continuing lies to the contrary.

China even denies Tibet was ever an independent country, even though the
entire world knows it was.

In fact, despite this observer's praise for Harper's actions - along
with Bush and German Chancellor Angella Merkell, who also met with him
recently - the west should be prepared to go much further in expressing
its' displeasure at China's ongoing brutality and blatant disregard for
the human rights of Tibetans and its own citizens.

As much as Mulroney must be admired for leading a boycott against South
Africa, trade between Canada and the apartheid regime was peanuts
compared to trade with China.

We know Liberals aren't interested in upsetting the Chinese, but if
Harper really means what he says about not allowing the "almighty
dollar" to dictate his views on human rights, why not take the next
logical step and boycott all things Chinese, including (perhaps even
especially) the upcoming Olympics?

Now that would be a message worth applauding.

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