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Canada-Iran Relations

Canada-Iran Relations

Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Trudeau government is still not prepared to declare that China is committing genocide against the Uighurs, claiming they are still reviewing the situation and will make a decision in due course. You gave a similar answer last week when I asked you about listing the IRGC as a terrorist entity. You said that you were still reviewing the situation and added that evidence is easier to gather in some jurisdictions than others.

Senator Gold, my question to you is this: Is this really an evidence problem or could it be that your government is more interested in protecting relationships with the regimes in Iran and China than supporting the values of Canadians that you are supposed to represent?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you, senator. I am pleased to represent a government that represents the interests of all Canadians.

With regard to your question, and as the honourable senator knows well and will appreciate, “genocide” is a term that carries not only an enormous weight but an enormous history. As Ambassador Rae has underlined, Canada has asked the United Nations to investigate and determine whether the crimes, clearly horrible crimes, committed against the Uighurs meet the legal test of genocide. This is not a word that this government is prepared to use loosely. It has the potential of diminishing the severity of those genocides tragically visited upon far too many peoples in our time.

Senator Frum: Senator Gold, our Five Eyes allies agree that there is substantial evidence of genocide taking place in China, including mass rapes, forced sterilization and torture of the Uighurs in re-education camps. So how is it that our Prime Minister, who declared to the world that our country is engaged in an ongoing genocide against our Indigenous people, remains unwilling to label the atrocities being committed against the Uighurs as a genocide, the evidence of which, as former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler said, is overwhelmingly clear?

Senator Gold: Again, senator, I won’t repeat everything that I just said. The government takes these allegations very seriously. It is working with the United Nations to come to a proper determination, and when it does so it will be made public.

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