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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibet Support Strong Within Alliance, Bloc and New Democratic Parties

November 23, 2000

Questionnaire yields poor responses from Liberals - no reply from Tories

Montreal, November 23, 2000: The results, released today, of a Canada Tibet Committee questionnaire to party leaders reveal that Stockwell Day, Alexa McDonough and Gilles Duceppe would meet Nobel Laureate the Dalai Lama, should he visit Canada as a religious or political leader. Liberals, however, would not make the same commitment and Tories were the only party that failed to respond at all, despite several telephone calls to campaign headquarters.

Tory leader, Joe Clark, then Minister of External Affairs, refused to meet the Dalai Lama when he visited Ottawa in 1990, as did then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Jean Chrétien, as leader of the opposition, spent 45 minutes with the Dalai Lama and presented the Tibetan leader with a copy of his autobiography. The Dalai Lama reciprocated with his autobiography and a traditional Tibetan khata (scarf).

"Unfortunately, few politicians bring their ethics with them when they move from opposition into power", said Thubten Samdup, President of the Canada Tibet Committee. "We had hopes that the Liberal Party would support the Tibetan people when it came to power, but that has not been the case."

Party leaders were also asked about their willingness to promote negotiations between the Dalai Lama and Chinese authorities. Again, Liberals hedged while the Bloc québecois actually recommended a Tibet/China dialogue in its party platform and the NDP promised to raise the matter in the House of Commons. The Canada Tibet Committee is currently engaged in a campaign to build parliamentary support for active Canadian involvement towards a negotiated solution to the Tibetan problem.

"I am not under any illusions", Samdup said. "Human rights are not an issue in this election, but it has been comforting to learn that there will be strong support for Tibet in the next House of Commons. I look forward to working with parliamentarians on behalf of my countrymen and women inside Tibet."

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Photos available: Jean Chrétien with the Dalai Lama

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QUESTIONNAIRE WITH RESPONSES

(Liberal and Bloc translated from original French)

 Question 1: Does your party endorse unconditional continuation of the Canada-China Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue with China as the most appropriate means of promoting human rights in China and Tibet?

Canadian Alliance Party: The Canadian Alliance endorses continuation of the Canada-China Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue with China and will encourage new instruments to advance the cause of human rights in China and Tibet.

Liberal Party of Canada: The Liberal government continues to develop a constructive bilateral dialogue with the Chinese government on the question of human rights. The joint Canada-China committee on human rights is the primary means of doing so. Through this intervention, Canada urges the Chinese government to respect the right to freedom of religion and culture, as well as the rights of minorities. These issues in the context of Tibet, are part of the discussions.

Bloc Quebecois: The Bloc Quebecois considers the fate imposed on the Tibetan people by the government of China to be unacceptable. Our party demands that the Canadian government use all available resources to ensure that negotiations are undertaken in good faith between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities and that they are based on conditions acceptable for Tibet. It will be extremely desirable that a reasonable deadline be established to measure the progress of these negotiations.

New Democratic Party of Canada: No. New Democrats will take steps to ensure that increased monitoring of the dialogue, with stipulated benchmarks for success between China and Tibet, is an issue in upcoming sessions of parliament.

Progressive Conservative Party of Canada: -

 Question 2: Will your party actively promote the commencement of negotiations between the Government of China and representatives of the Dalai Lama as a means of ending the conflict in Tibet? If not, what alternative strategy would you consider to be more effective?

Canadian Alliance Party: A Canadian Alliance government would encourage negotiations

between the Government of China and representatives of the Dalai Lama as a means of ending the suppression of human rights in Tibet. We would seek new means to advance the cause of freedom and human rights in China and Tibet in concert with our international allies and friends.

Liberal Party of Canada: One of the principle objectives of the Liberal government's China policy is

to prioritize respect for human rights, including all regions of China notably Tibet. In April 1997, we established the bilateral human rights dialogue to encourage China to develop its position on a number of questions related to human rights.

Bloc Quebecois: We invite you to consult our election platform, posted on the Bloc Quebecois website www.blocquebecois.org, where in the chapter dedicated to foreign affairs policy under the section "Human Rights", we give specific attention to the question of Tibet.

New Democratic Party of Canada: Yes. New Democrats will take steps to ensure that increased dialogue between China and Tibet is an issue in upcoming session of parliament.

Progressive Conservative Party of Canada: -

 Question 3: Would you, as leader of the Canadian Alliance, meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama, if he were to visit Canada in a religious or political capacity?

Canadian Alliance Party: Yes, we would welcome such a meeting.

Liberal Party of Canada: Thanks to the Canada-China bilateral dialogue, our officials have been able, as never before, to become familiar with officials of Chinese organizations whose collaboration is essential for the promotion of human rights in China. For example we note the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of Justice and of Public Security as well as officials of minority regions such as Tibet. More than this, because of our many visits to China, our government has raised the question of human rights abuses in the country, particularly in regards to Tibet.

Bloc Quebecois: It will be a great honour for the leader of our party, Mr.Gilles Duceppe, to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama if he visits Canada or Quebec.

New Democratic Party of Canada: Yes. Alexa McDonough would, as leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama upon his visit to Canada.

Progressive Conservative Party of Canada: -

- end -

Contact: Mr. Thubten Samdup
514-867-6770

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