FIFA World Cup: Qatar faces more human rights scrutiny as Sajjan returns – The National

International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan faced criticism from the opposition for not making a statement on human rights during his visit to Qatar for the World Cup.

“We have no moral authority if we don’t raise the issue of human rights in countries where we know human rights abuses are happening,” said NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson.

Sajjan represented the Trudeau government at the World Cup, where Canada’s men’s team competed for the first time in years. He met with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and local officials.

However, Sajjan’s social media posts do not mention the host country’s documented mistreatment of migrant workers, nor the emirate’s anti-LGBTQ policies.

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These concerns have led some broadcasters and players to sport wraps that say “One Love”. The German team kept their mouths shut while taking an official photo.

Sajjan’s office said he was unavailable for comment Thursday as he was returning to Canada.

Labor Secretary Seamus O’Regan, who is gay, said he felt Qatar was being left out of hosting.

“Honestly, it’s very contradictory. I applaud my team; I cheer for my country and want nothing but the best. But let me tell you, it’s a bit difficult,” he said

O’Regan said he could not speak for Sajjan, but noted that the government had raised concerns about Qatar before the games began.

“We know exactly what we are standing on; We expressed our displeasure openly,” he said.

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The NDP called for a diplomatic boycott of the tournament.

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“It speaks to this government on both sides,” McPherson said.

“This government has shown once again that they do not care about human rights.”

On Monday, MPs unanimously passed a motion condemning FIFA for threatening to punish players who wear “One Love” armbands. The petition argued that “international sports governing bodies have a moral obligation to support players and fans in highlighting the fight for equality against homophobia, transphobia and all forms of discrimination in sport”.

The captains of several European countries have scrapped plans to wear One Love armbands after being warned by soccer’s governing body FIFA that they would face on-field sanctions.

Qatari media also reported that some fans dressed in rainbow clothes were not allowed into the stadiums.

This month, Amnesty International rebuked Soccer Canada for its “deafening silence” against thousands of workers, mostly from South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa, who are “subject to labor abuses, grossly underpaid and other forms of exploitation.”

Soccer Canada issued a statement last month supporting the ongoing reforms, but refrained from criticizing the emirate.

Amnesty noted that peer federations from Britain, the US, France and the Netherlands have all backed calls for a compensation fund for migrant workers mistreated in Qatar’s preparations for the games.

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Conservatives had no direct comment on Sajjan’s actions. Instead, MP Michael Chong said his party would prefer countries with better reputations to host the World Cup, such as Ukraine’s bid to co-host the tournament in 2030 with Spain and Portugal.

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“Conservatives condemn in the strongest terms all human rights abuses around the world and stand ready to work with our democratic allies to uphold human rights,” Chong said.

The Bloc Quebecois echoed the NDP’s call for a diplomatic boycott and deplored Sajjan’s involvement in Qatar. “Canada has no excuse for turning a blind eye to human rights abuses,” MP Martin Champoux tweeted in French on Monday.

During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Liberals called on the Harper government to raise the issue of human rights in China.

© 2022 The Canadian Press