Rt Hon. Stephen Harper statment regarding attending CHOGM in Sri Lanka

[ PMO ] - [ Sep 12, 2011 10:02 GMT ]

Ethnic Media Round Table held on Friday, 09 September 2011 at the Minister’s Regional Office, 150, King’s Street West, Toronto

The Official Transcript from the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office:

REPORTER: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for this opportunity. My question’s not directly related to what you started off today with.

I’m from CMR, and one of our largest listenership is Tamil and Sri Lankan specifically. You’ve taken a very strong position when you were at the Commonwealth summit to say that the next summit should not happen in Sri Lanka because of their human rights records. And recently there’s been many calls for an investigation into war crimes, at least war crimes in Sri Lanka by UN and of course United States and many other countries.

But Canada has been particularly silent about this over the past few months. What is Canada’s current position on it?

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Well, Canada’s position hasn’t changed. First of all, in terms of the specific you raised in your preamble, I have expressed concerns about the holding of the next Commonwealth summit, the one after the one coming up in Sri Lanka.

I intend to make clear to my fellow leaders at the Commonwealth that if we do not see progress in Sri Lanka in terms of human rights and some of the issues that you raised, I will not as Prime Minister be attending that Commonwealth summit.

And I hope that others will take a similar position, but I hope that this will pressure the Sri Lankan government to take the appropriate actions. We are concerned about the situation. That country needs to make progress, not just in terms of what they did against… yeah, the Tigers, but they do have to make advances in terms of political reconciliation, democratic values and accountability.

We support the calls of the United Nations Secretary General’s representative for an independent investigation, and we will… we hope that that work will continue, and we will… our position’s very clear that we are supportive of seeing an independent investigation on the matters that the United Nations has raised.

For Media Contact:
Sarah Levesque
Communications Officer (Multicultural Media)
Office of the Prime Minister
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Email: Sarah.Levesque@pmo-cpm.gc.ca