Canada’s foreign policy can be a bit of a head-scratcher sometimes.
There are certain countries where we are extremely concerned about human-rights abuses, and as for many others — not so much.
Lately, the focus has been on Sri Lanka, which is host next month to the Commonwealth summit. Citing a long list of concerns, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced he will boycott the meeting.
He pointed to allegations of extra judicial killings, disappearances and the jailing of political opponents and journalists — the type of thing that goes on in many countries that Canada has managed to remain on good terms with.
They say that the answer to a mystery often comes by following the money, but in this case it would make more sense to follow the votes.
The alleged victims in Sri Lanka are mainly members of the Tamil minority. This ethnic group has long been at odds with the Sinhalese majority and recently lost a brutal war of separation.
As a result, many of them left the country to find a more peaceful and prosperous life — making Canada, and, in particular, the Toronto area, the world’s largest home of expatriate Tamils.
For most Canadians, it amounts to barely a blip on the radar when Harper muses about cutting the $20 million Canada contributes to running the Commonwealth. After all, Kamloops spends more than that every year on parks and recreation alone.
But for Tamil-Canadians pondering who to vote for, it is a burning issue and one that could help decide which party wins ridings in Toronto — a key area where Conservatives long for a breakthrough.
Meanwhile, the leaders of countries such as Australia and New Zealand say they’re quite
happy to attend the Commonwealth summit, and hope to use their influence to improve conditions in Sri Lanka. They insist that engagement works better than shunning.
“You do not make new friends by rubbishing your old friends or abandoning your old friends,” Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said.
The Sri Lankan government has accused Canada of playing domestic politics on its back. We can see its point.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.