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Olympic boycott not ruled out: MacKay

April 9, 2008

Toronto Star
April 08, 2008
Allan Woods
Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA–The federal government hasn't ruled out boycotting the Beijing
Olympics to show Canada's anger at China's crackdown on Tibetan
activists, says Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

With international pressure growing for countries to send a sign of
their displeasure over China's military crackdown in Tibet, which has
left scores dead, MacKay said yesterday the government has not yet
formed an official position but will eventually have to do so.

Asked if a boycott of the Olympic Games is a possibility, MacKay said:
"Without having the discussion, we can't rule anything out.

"Inevitably, we'll be having discussions ... but as far as a policy or
something reflective of government policy, we have not taken that
decision just yet."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last week he never had plans to
attend the opening ceremonies but still intended to send a high-level

MacKay's spokesperson, Dan Dugas, sent an email to reporters seeking to
clarify the minister's comments yesterday: "Minister MacKay is not
suggesting or signalling the possibility (that a high-level
representative might not be sent)."

Harper also advised China last week to take seriously the world's
concerns about its human rights record because "(concerns) are likely to
grow rather than diminish if we see a repetition of the current pattern."

"It's undeniable. It's impossible to not see the reaction that's
occurring around the Olympics," MacKay said.

"It's become a forum of expression for people and their concern over
what is happening in China."

At Queen's Park yesterday, Ontario Economic Development and Trade
Minister Sandra Pupatello was attacked for undertaking a trade mission
to China given the current military crackdown in Tibet.

Pupatello, who is travelling to Shanghai this week to open a new
provincial trade office, said "it's not my role" to get involved in
human rights because that is the federal government's bailiwick.

"I am determined that we have to engage with China. I believe that's
good for China and that's good for Ontario," she said.

New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale-High Park) said the timing of
the trade junket "could not be worse."

Progressive Conservative MPP Bob Runciman (Leeds-Grenville) said the
Liberals should "be embarrassed" by the trip's timing because of the
dire straits Ontario's manufacturers are in now.

With files from Robert Benzie
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