By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) - A former top diplomat urged Canada on Friday to enact sanctions against Hong Kong politicians and business people who are working against pro-democracy protesters in the former British colony.
said Canada should urge nations at the G7 summit in France this weekend to sign a special statement condemning suppression of citizens democratic rights and freedoms to protest peacefully against China.
Higginbotham, who worked in the Canadian embassies in Beijing and Hong Kong, said Canada dragged its feet in protecting the 300,000 Canadians who live in Hong Kong.
As well, he said the previous arrest of two Canadians and Chinese restrictions on imports of canola, beef and pork, widely seen as retribution for arresting Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou, show that a more aggressive stance is needed.
“I think we have nothing to lose,” Higginbotham said, referring to the fractious relations with Beijing. “I think our relationship with China has reached a new low.
“And, I think we are going to have to make some realistic adjustments to our policy toward China.”
Canadian Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong, whose father was born in Hong Kong, backed the contention that the Liberal government has been slow to react to the situation.
“No, I don’t think they have been tough enough,” he said Thursday. “And I think they have been slow out of the gate in commenting on the events.”
At a news conference Thursday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government has been keenly following events in Hong Kong, where weeks of demonstrations are ongoing against a change to allow extradition of residents to mainland China for trial.
Freeland and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued a joint statement urging China to allow Hong Kong protesters to conduct peaceful assemblies.
Sometimes the massive demonstrations have led to violent confrontations with Chinese forces.