Tory MP crit­i­cizes Lib­er­als af­ter China de­nies her visa

Waterloo Region Record - - CANADA - Joanna Smith

OT­TAWA — Con­ser­va­tive MP Candice Ber­gen said the Lib­er­als should have protested when China de­nied her a visa to travel there with other par­lia­men­tar­i­ans this sum­mer, in­stead of leav­ing her be­hind.

The Op­po­si­tion House leader was sup­posed to be among the MPs and se­na­tors from the Canada-China Leg­isla­tive As­so­ci­a­tion who trav­elled over­seas Aug. 14 to 27. She was hop­ing to talk to Chi­nese politi­cians and govern­ment of­fi­cials about Cana­dian canola ex­ports and hu­man rights.

She said she was alarmed by some of the per­sonal de­tails China asked of those go­ing on the trip, es­pe­cially since they were trav­el­ling on spe­cial pass­ports, so she de­cided to leave some in­for­ma­tion about her fam­ily out of the ap­pli­ca­tion.

China de­nied her visa a few days be­fore the group was due to leave.

“That was dis­ap­point­ing and shock­ing,” said Ber­gen, who pointed out she was a min­is­ter of state in the for­mer Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment and had been to China be­fore, in March 2016.

What sur­prised her even more, she said, was that when she sent an email to oth­ers in the group ask­ing whether they were go­ing to do any­thing about it, such as can­celling the visit, she never heard back.

Sen. Joseph Day, who co-chairs the Canada-China Leg­isla­tive As­so­ci­a­tion, said the group did push back on the in­va­sive na­ture of the ap­pli­ca­tion form, but were told by Cana­dian and Chi­nese of­fi­cials, as well as the politi­cians they later met on the trip, they did not have a choice if they wanted to go.

“The Chi­nese were not flex­i­ble on that,” said Day. “It’s re­flec­tive of what other coun­tries are ask­ing for, in­clud­ing Canada.”

A spokesper­son for For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land con­firmed no one should ex­pect spe­cial treat­ment.

ADRIAN WYLD, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Candice Ber­gen says the Lib­er­als should have done more to protest when China de­nied her a visa to travel there with par­lia­men­tar­i­ans.

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