Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser joined calls on the federal government to boycott the Commonwealth summit, CHOGM, in Sri Lanka, as its Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) failed to discuss Sri Lanka on its formal agenda during CMAG’s meeting in London Friday. The deliberations on Sri Lanka fell into the “Other Matters of Interest to Ministers”, which are not made public, a news media monitoring the CMAG reported. Meanwhile, Minister Baird, Canada’s Foreign Minister, said he was appalled that Sri Lanka seems poised to have the honour and responsibility of hosting the Commonwealth summit meeting in November. Speaking at London after the CMAG meeting, Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird alluded to Sri Lanka hosting the CHOGM as ‘evil’.
Among the Commonwealth, Canada has been showing strong opposition to Colombo hosting the CHOGM meeting.
Official Opposition New Democrats Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) and Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough—Rouge River) launched a national campaign to pressure the Conservatives to fully boycott the Commonwealth meetings in Sri Lanka unless an independent and international investigation into alleged war crimes are accepted by the government of that country.
“What we’re calling for is a strong and principled position by the Government of Canada. At this point, we can’t see how the government can justify sending any delegation from Canada to attend the meetings in Sri Lanka,” Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paul Dewar from the NDP told TamilNet.
The campaign was launched a day after Stephen Harper left the door open to government participation in the Sri Lanka meetings, the NDP statement further said.
“The government must give us a clear commitment that Canada will not be a part of these meetings if Sri Lanka does not agree to an independent and international investigation,” said NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan, further urging fellow Canadians to sign an online petition by the NDP that calls on the Canada to “boycott November’s Commonwealth meetings hosted by Sri Lanka—until that government allows an independent investigation into allegations of war crimes.”
Separately, speaking after a Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting in London on Friday, John Baird, Canada’s Foreign Minister, said "Canada didn’t get involved in the Commonwealth to accommodate evil; we came to combat it. We are deeply disappointed that Sri Lanka appears poised to take on this leadership role," The Guardian reported on Friday.
On Wednesday in the Canadian Parliament Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed with Bob Rae’s statement that Canada "should 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," hinting that the Prime Minister is open to moving the venue away from Colombo.
"The Commonwealth now faces the ignominy of having at its helm a country that has violated at least nine of its own core principles that the Queen signed into its new Charter last month [March]. Such double standards clearly call into question the Commonwealth’s credibility," noted J.S. Tissainayagam, a reputed journalist who was incarcerated in Sri Lanka for his writings.