Calgary Sun

Tories denounce slave labour

Squaring off against China

- MARK BONOKOSKI markbonoko­ @Markbonoko­ski

“As prime minister, I won't hesitate to act against this disgusting practice and ensure that the worst human rights offenders don't profit from these abuses.” Erin O'toole

Back in July, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau found himself in a no-holds-barred slanging match with a Chinese communist diplomat.

Li Yang, a propagandi­st for the state-owned Global Times, tweeted out a cartoon of thenprime Minister Justin Trudeau squatting in a residentia­l school's unmarked graveyard.

The air bubble had him saying: “We stole your land; we killed your men; we buried your child; let's reconcile.”

“Who is this man?” a Li associate then tweeted. “Isn't he worried about the Indigenous people spitting on his face?”

All this came, of course, with Canada's condemnati­on of China's continued attempt to ethnically cleanse its Xinjiang region of its Uyghur Muslim minority.

But just to be certain Trudeau got his message, Li later tweeted: “Do you think your so-called reconcilia­tion is worth showing off?!!!”

It was a hostile word fight, nothing else, because the Liberal government has adopted no tightly written policy against China's use of slavery against the Uyghurs in its Xinjiang region.

It was all a waste of breath. In recent years, it had come to the western world's attention that the Chinese government has implemente­d a coercive labour transfer scheme to substitute the Han cotton pickers with the country's Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic minority who've been forced into “re-education camps” — de facto ethnic cleansing efforts on the part of the communist state.

The forced labour transfer serves to drive down costs in a labour-intensive industry where a significan­t amount of cotton picking is still done by hand.

As a part of this scheme, Uyghur workers have been moved out of “re-education” camps into the cotton-picking industry, which is controlled by the Xinjiang Production and Constructi­on Corps (XPCC), a communist paramilita­ry organizati­on overseeing cotton production in the region.

The Xinjiang province provides more than 85% of the country's cotton supply. China, in turn, accounts for nearly 22% of the world's cotton supply. It's an undeniably huge global player — both in terms of supply and demand.

But it's an ugly game being played.

On Thursday, Conservati­ve Leader Erin O'toole announced his plan to ban slave-labour products — his sights aimed directly at China.

“For years, we've known Uyghur slave labour is being used by China's communist regime in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to produce products like cotton, tomatoes and solar panels for export,” said O'toole.

“As prime minister, I won't hesitate to act against this disgusting practice and ensure that the worst human rights offenders don't profit from these abuses.”

A Conservati­ve government, said O'toole, would dramatical­ly revise Canada's supply chain legislatio­n to meaningful­ly enforce the country's commitment not to import products made with slave labour, including products the Chinese Communist Party forces Uyghur Muslims to make.

“Canada's Conservati­ves will always stand up for human rights,” concluded O'toole. “We will stand with our allies around the world to confront evil and tyranny wherever it exists and promote greater freedom for all.”

In its background­er, the Conservati­ves said the group End Uyghur Forced Labour — a coalition of some 180 civil society organizati­ons and trade unions — estimates one in five cotton garments sold in the world contains cotton or yarn from China's Xinjiang region, and 20%-25% of the world's tomatoes are produced in Xinjiang.

The Liberals paid this crisis lip service, with policies filled with cavern-sized loopholes.

The Conservati­ves promise they won't.

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