Ottawa, ON – Garnett Genuis, Conservative Shadow Minister for International Development, and the Hon. Senator Leo Housakos, issued the following news release as they were joined by NBA free agent and world-renowned human rights fighter Enes Kanter Freedom:
“Our government’s inaction in stopping products made from forced labour from entering Canada’s marketplace and even our actions as consumers to purchase those goods, means that we are complicit in one of the greatest human rights abuses of our time,” said Senator Housakos.
Mr. Freedom, a long-time critic of the communist regime of China and its genocide against the Uyghur Muslims, is in Ottawa to draw attention to, and support efforts to convince the Canadian government to ban imports of all goods from the Xinjiang region; similar to legislation that is being enacted in the United States later this month.
“Canada is a country built on principles, rule of law and respect of human rights. That’s why I feel comfortable and excited to travel to Canada, to support bills such as Senator Housakos’,” remarked Mr. Freedom.
“I hope this bill receives multipartisan support. Defending human rights, and holding dictators accountable is something we must do. By banning imports from the East Turkistan region, a place where genocide is currently happening, we are saving lives,” he continued.
Senator Housakos, who currently has a public bill in the Senate that would impose just such a ban, went on to note that the federal government has not prevented any goods suspected of being made by Uyghur slave labour from being imported into Canada; despite obligations under the Canada-US-Mexico free trade agreement to do so.
“Canada has been failing to live up to its obligations under the Genocide Convention. It is an obfuscation and a denial of our responsibilities for the government to suggest that we shouldn’t act unless or until there is some determination by some to-be-identified international body,” agreed MP Genuis, an executive member of the Canada-Uyghur Friendship Group in parliament.
International human rights lawyer and senior fellow at Macdonald Laurier Institute Sarah Teich joined the call for Canada to do more. Ms. Teich was the lead attorney for the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project when they were granted intervenor status in last year’s court case against the Canada Border Services Agency for their refusal to stop goods produced by slave labour from entering Canada.
Senator Housakos’ Bill S-204 can be found here.