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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Canada China Business Council bars human rights group from Business Forum

September 12, 2009

September 9, 2009 - Suburban staff report

The Canada Tibet Committee (CTC) is urging Trade Minister Stockwell Day to
decline the Canada China Business Council's (CCBC) invitation to speak at
its Sept.15 Business Forum, because the CCBC is blocking participation by
the CTC, a human rights organization.

CTC executive director Dermod Travis responded to an open invitation to
CCBC's event at the CCBC website, and registered the CTC under the
non-member status. But within days, CCBC's public affairs director Victor
Hayes declined Travis' registration, stating that CTC's presence would be
"inappropriate" because of CTC's "political" mandate.

"The CCBC opened the Business Forum to the public by offering a non-member
registration on its website," said Travis. "The CCBC can not arbitrarily
draw a line after the fact as to which Canadians are welcome at their events
and which Canadians are not. It's either open or it's not."

According to Hayes, the forum is "purely a trade development event." But the
CTC contends that a human rights perspective at the forum will be of value
to all participants, and that trade and human rights are inseparable.

This view is shared by the Canadian government, which states that it expects
Canadian firms "to reflect our values and international commitments whether
in Canada or abroad." According to the government, it "proactively raise(s)
Corporate Social Responsibility with Canadian companies who have business
interests in China, including Tibet."

"The CCBC appears to forget that this event is being held in Toronto,
Canada," Travis said. "While it may be standard practice in China to bar
those with differing opinions from CCBC events, one would hope that the
practice hasn't taken hold at their events in Canada."

The CTC also criticized the CCBC for playing both sides of the fence by
claiming not to be a political organization, while providing forums for
political leaders from both Canada and China to espouse political views. In
June, the CCBC hosted an Ottawa speech by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang
Jiechi which most independent observers considered to be political in
nature. Two journalists were barred by the CCBC from covering that event.

Suburban readers will remember the important role the CTC played in last
year's Human Dignity Rally in Ottawa to protest Chinese human rights
violations. That rally was organized by Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler, former
Canadian Secretary of State David Kilgour, international human rights
activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam and our own editor Beryl Wajsman through his
Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal. The Institute also supported the
CTC effort in getting two busloads of protesters from Montreal to Ottawa.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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