Mr. Speaker, there is a genocide happening in the world. It is happening, it is undeniable, the evidence is there, and this House of Commons is calling it out.
There are one million people in detention camps in China. Women are being sterilized. There is forced abortion and slave labour. People are being ripped away from their families, tortured and murdered simply because of their religion.
Joe Biden and Donald Trump do not agree on much, but when they do, I think we owe it to take a look. The U.S. administration, meaning the previous Trump administration and the current Biden administration, key world leaders, have agreed and said that there is genocide happening in China, full stop.
I will start my speech today by using my political science degree, which I got a few years back, and look back in history at Brian Mulroney, former prime minister, and his leadership on apartheid in South Africa.
Back at that time, there were a lot of people who said, “Who cares? Why are we involved in a situation 15,000 kilometres away in a country where we do not have much connection?” However, Brian Mulroney stood up—contrary to other world leaders, who stood quiet—and a snowball effect started to build support and effect real, tangible change in South Africa. A lot of people today credit Brian Mulroney and Canada for getting Nelson Mandela out of prison and ending apartheid in that country. The then prime minister stood up to people who said that they were not sure, they did not care, it did not matter, they needed more research. Maybe at times people thought it was not worth the effort. Today we look back at that stance and see that it formed part of our Canadian identity.
There are a few of those moments in our history. I think of Vimy Ridge and the contributions of our brave men and women in the First World War and the Second World War. They stand as defining moments of who we are as Canadians. Our leadership stance in South Africa was tough and often ran against the current, but it effected real change, saved lives and formed our Canadian identity. We do not look back today to wonder whether it was worthwhile, if it was important or not, or if it was happening or not. It helped define us here at home and around the world.
However, for as proud as we are of the circumstance and situation in South Africa, we have to be mindful of what we did not do when it came to Rwanda. The House and our country know very well of the difficult story of Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire, a former senator and a well-known name across the country. Canada took a different approach in the mid-1990s when it came to the Rwandan genocide. We still talk about that today, but not in proud terms. We committed back then, and several times since, to say that never again will we allow that to happen. A lot of speeches, commitments and talk have been made by elected officials, Canadians, military leaders and other people around the world.
I believe that right now, we of this generation are confronted with our South Africa and our Rwanda in the Uighur situation happening in China.
Some of my constituents in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, or perhaps somebody watching in rural Saskatchewan, a lobster fisherman off the coast of Nova Scotia, somebody in an office tower in Vancouver or a middle-class family in Mississauga might ask, “What does it matter?” To them I would say that it does matter, because it is testing our identity. It is testing our value set to do what we have done before: stand up and take a stand. It is not always easy to confront and it is not always easy to solve, but we know it is there.
The Communist Party in China is not playing by the rules, and it affects us all. The Uighur situation, the genocide happening there, is a clear and prevalent example, but it is not the only one.
We need look no further than what we see in dealing with COVID-19, the challenges with the World Health Organization, with CanSino and the issues that happened with vaccines, the horrible and unfair treatment of our two Michaels, the spying and the infiltration of our institutions. The list goes on, and it says that the Government of China—not the people of China, but the government, the Communist Party of China—is not doing right in this world.
I commend the Bloc Québécois and support the amendment that was made today to the motion. We talked earlier this week about China not deserving the right to host the 2022 Olympics, plain and simple, and there is still time to change that.
More than anything, why this should matter to every Canadian is that when people are being raped and slaughtered simply because of their religion, their skin colour or because of who they are, we have a moral obligation here at home. I do not want to stand in the House of Commons years from now feeling sorry that another 800,000 people were murdered as we stood by and were indecisive about whether it was happening, whether we should have acted or what we could have done. We have done that before and we have the scars. I do not want that to happen again. I do not want to hear speeches in which members say they wish they had acted differently back then.
We are at a fork in the road in our country. Are we going to go down the path that we followed before? Are we going to confront this as we confronted the Nazis in the Second World War and the evil that was taking place in South Africa and make a difference, or are we going to go down the road we took with Rwanda and live with regret?
Today I am thinking of the million people detained in camps that the Chinese call “re-education centres”. The research, studies and information out there are crystal clear. Reports and first-hand accounts have been devastating. I remember watching the news several months ago and seeing a man pick up someone coming out of one of these detention centres who was trembling and barely able to walk. Frankly, the image will never leave my mind. I would describe him as barely alive. It was horrific. We owe it to them to stand up for the people who cannot stand up for themselves.
I want to close my comments today with a personal story about Tursunay Ziawudun, as told in an article by the BBC in the U.K. She tells her story as an example of what happens. She stated that some of the women in the detention camp who were taken away from the cells at night were never returned, and that those who were brought back were threatened against telling others in the cell what had happened to them. “You can't tell anyone what happened, you can only lie down quietly”, she said. Women were forcibly sterilized, including a woman who was just about 20 years old. “We begged them on her behalf”, she said.”
Tursunay was released in December of 2018 and fled to the U.S. A week after she arrived in the United States, she had surgery to remove her womb, a consequence of being stamped on. She said, “I have lost the chance to become a mother.”
That is one story of many that we know are happening today. We know a genocide is being committed. We owe it to pass this motion, but more importantly, we owe it for this country to act again in the best humanitarian interests of the world.
I think of those people there, wondering if humanity will step in for them. I for one, the Conservative Party, other parties we have heard from today and numerous bipartisan colleagues have said we are ready. We are at a decision point. I agree that we have a lot of things going on in this country, but standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves needs to be one of them. The question is, will we stand up for the Uighur and Turkic Muslim people when they need us? I for one say yes, and I believe this House will say yes too.