An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
WHEN THE BOYCOTT of the upcoming Beijing Olympics by Canadian diplomats was announced, my first thought was that it’s a weak-kneed response but better than nothing.
It’s now obvious, though, that it’s good for nothing at all.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the move, he said it was being done in protest against “repeated human rights violations by the Chinese government.”
OK, at least we were doing something, though if we really wanted to grab the attention of the Chinese, we’d do a proper boycott and keep our athletes home. A lot of wonderful Canadian athletes are looking forward to competing on the world stage but that opportunity pales in comparison to some of the things being done in China — the detention of Canadians for the purposes of hostage diplomacy, the mistreatment of the Falun Gong, the persecution of the Uyghurs, the cultural genocide against Tibet and the crackdown on democratic rights in Hong Kong, for example.
Somehow, those things seem more consequential than missing a sports event.
But, well, we’re keeping our diplomats home. Correction — diplomat. I came across a couple of tweets from reporter Steven Chase of the Globe and Mail in which he reveals that the ban affects exactly one diplomat.
As it turns out, Canada only ever sends one diplomat to the Olympics, usually the Minister of Sport. Right now, that happens to be Pascale St.-Onge, recently appointed to Trudeau’s cabinet after the election.
Yes, indeed, according to the Department of Canadian Heritage, we sent one diplomat to the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, one to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, and really raised our game by sending two to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018.
In that year, Governor-General Julie Payette joined then-Minister Kirsty Duncan at the Games. Mainly, they watched the opening and closing ceremonies.
Wow — keeping one politician home will really show China what we’re made of.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.