Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Liberal cabinet to abstain from vote on declaring China’s treatment of Uighurs a genocide

Liberal cabinet to abstain from vote on declaring China's treatment of Uighurs a genocide

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet will not be casting votes either in favour or against of this afternoon’s House of Commons vote to formally label China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslims a genocide, CTV News has confirmed.

With the exception of Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau who is set to abstain on the record, the rest of the Liberal cabinet including Trudeau are not expected to take part in the vote taking place after question period on Monday.

Backbench Liberal MPs have been told they can vote freely on the matter. Many have already indicated that they will support it, including Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Anthony Housefather.

All opposition leaders have indicated their parties will vote in favour of the motion, introduced by the Conservatives last week.

The motion calls on the government to adopt the position that what is happening in China’s Xinjiang province amounts to a genocide.

There have long been reports gathered by journalists and international human rights advocates exposing instances of mass rape, forced sterilization, and torture at China’s “re-education” camps for Uighurs.

While the motion is non-binding on the government, it is symbolic. It comes after a House of Commons subcommittee on international human rights concluded in October the situation amounted to a genocide.

The Bloc Quebecois is also seeking an amendment to the Conservative opposition day motion, wanting to include language about also seeing MPs call on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Olympic Games “if the Chinese government continues this genocide.”

In a statement to CTVNews.ca, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in relation to today’s vote “New Democrats recognize that China’s measures of mass detention, forced labour, surveillance and population control, such as forced sterilization, against Uighurs and Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang meet the definition of genocide.”

A Green Party representative told CTVNews.ca that the party will also support the motion.

More to come…

With files from CTV News’ Michel Boyer

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