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CANADA: O'Toole wants Trudeau to stand up to China at G7, push relocation of Beijing Olympics

For months, the Conservatives have pressed Trudeau to take a less tolerant approach toward China

OTTAWA — Canada's Official Opposition wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to use his time at the G7 Leaders' Summit to take a stand against China and call for the 2022 Winter Olympics to be moved from Beijing.

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole sent the letter Friday as Trudeau is set to convene with other world leaders in the United Kingdom next week. 

As the leader of the host nation, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to focus the meeting on efforts to fight COVID-19 and making an economic comeback from the pandemic. 

O'Toole says Canada's lack of vaccines during January and February put the country behind the recovery of other G7 economies, and Trudeau should work with his international counterparts to reduce its reliance on foreign countries, like China. 

Working with allies on ways to stand up to "the threat the Communist Chinese regime poses" is one of the main asks O'Toole outlines in his letter for the upcoming summit.

"As the Prime Minister, I also implore you to also use your voice on the world stage to call for the relocation of the 2022 Winter Olympics out of Beijing," the letter reads. 

"Canada should not be sending its athletes to compete there while a genocide is being committed against Uyghurs, and two Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, remained detained."

Trudeau has said his government is working "tirelessly" to bring both men home. 

He has also rebuked China for its arbitrary detention of the pair, which Trudeau views as an attempt to exert political pressure on Canada, following the 2018 arrest of senior Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou so she can be extradited to the United States to face fraud charges.

For months, the Conservatives have pressed his Liberal government to take a less tolerant approach toward China, which O'Toole says threatens Canada's interests.

His Opposition MPs have particularly hammered Trudeau over reports that scientists at a Winnipeg infectious-diseases laboratory had been collaborating with Chinese military researchers, to which Trudeau responded last week by cautioning Tories against wading into intolerance.

"The rise in anti-Asian racism we have been seeing over the past number of months should be of concern to everyone,'' the prime minister recently said in the House of Commons.

The response prompted blowback from Conservatives, with MP Michael Barrett demanded the prime minister ditch what he dubbed "woke talking points'' and address security concerns. Trudeau has since veered away from his "tolerance and diversity'' response.

As for the upcoming G7, O'Toole says Canada should commit to banning Huawei and stop Canadian money from going to companies with possible ties to China's military and surveillance efforts. 

"It is also imperative that you follow suit to stop the flow of Canadian money into companies with alleged ties to Communist China's military and surveillance efforts," he writes.

"Just yesterday, President (Joe) Biden issued an executive order barring investors from funding 59 Chinese companies, and you can show real leadership to do the same."

Fighting climate change is also on the agenda for the upcoming G7 leaders' summit. 

O'Toole asks that Trudeau pitch the idea of imposing "carbon border adjustment tariffs" on imports from countries with less stringent measures to reduce emissions, like China, to avoid Canada losing its competitiveness, which is a plank that comes from the Tory's own climate plan.

The Conservatives also want the prime minister to reject a new global tax deal to set minimum tax rates for businesses in Canada. 

Trudeau and the Canadian delegation will travel to the U.K. for the G7 meeting from June 11 to 13 and then to the NATO Summit on June 14. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2021.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press