Bob Rae calls on Prime Minister to invite Commonwealth to Canada, boycott Rajapaksa government


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Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in light of the appalling human rights record of the Sri Lankan government, including the impeachment of the chief justice, including the jailing and indeed murdering of several journalists, including human rights abuses which go right across the jurisdiction, I wonder if the Prime Minister would consider this proposition: Why would Canada not invite the Commonwealth countries to come to Canada, for Canada to host the conference and for Canada to become the chairman of the Commonwealth for two years?

It is preposterous that the Rajapaksa government should be chairing the Commonwealth for the next two years.

Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, myself and almost all members of the House are in one mind on this issue. We are deeply troubled by the direction in Sri Lanka and the fact that Sri Lanka is, at this point, the host of the next Commonwealth heads of government meeting.

Suggestions have been made of any number of countries that would be willing to host that. In the meantime, we will obviously continue to monitor events there and do what we can to try to increase pressure on the government of Sri Lanka to make changes, but obviously, given the current circumstances, as I have said before, it would be very difficult for this government to fully participate.