On February 18, as part of the consideration in the Canadian House of Commons of a “non-binding resolution” on whether the treatment of the Uighurs constitutes genocide, a provision was added that calls upon the International Olympic Committee “to move the 2022 Olympic Games if the Chinese government continues this genocide.” The resolution has no legal effect, but it illustrates the political importance of the issue and the pressure some Members of Parliament and others are putting on the Trudeau administration.

In support of the provision, the member of Parliament who proposed it offered the following statement:

I think this is a situation that will occur more and more often. The International Olympic Committee has an obvious problem when it comes to choosing where to hold the Olympic Games. We know that it is becoming increasingly expensive to host the Olympics and that the countries that want to host them are often those led by a tyrannical government looking to boost its image. These countries use the Olympics as an opportunity to glorify their own regime and to show their own people that they are strong and powerful.

That is a problem we need to consider. I believe that the amendment we are proposing today is a strong gesture. I think that, if the House votes in favour of the amendment and the motion, we will be better off and we will become leaders on the world stage. I am convinced that this will snowball in many of the world’s free parliaments.

During the discussion that followed, a member of Parliament asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs this question: “When will our Prime Minister join the Conservatives in calling for the Olympic Games to be relocated?” This was the response:

With respect to his very specific question about the Olympics, we have said many times that this decision is up to the International Olympic Committee, and our position has not changed.

Ultimately, the vote on the non-binding resolution passed 266-0, but Prime Minister Trudeau and his Cabinet abstained from the vote. The Associated Press report on the vote notes that: “A senior government official said declaring something in Parliament is not going to adequately get results in China and that work with international allies and partners is needed.”