Canada should not boycott the upcoming Commonwealth meetings in Sri Lanka, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney has said.
Appearing on CTV’s Question Period, he pointed out that if Canada was to boycott the Commonwealth because of illustrations of improper government or abusive treatment of people within some of the member countries. "Some days you wouldn’t have too many people around that Commonwealth table for tea,” Mulroney said.
“There’s a lot of developing countries in there, countries with problems, and the best thing I think that we can do is be there at the table and illustrate, by our presence, the value of what we’ve learned as a country over 146 years and how we conduct ourselves with our democracy and with our generosity to friends internationally.”
Mulroney said the 53-nation Commonwealth is a powerful group and Canada should work within it to make a statement. For example, the former Prime Minister pointed to the accomplishments of prime minister John Diefenbaker who, at the 1961 Commonwealth leaders’ meeting, denounced South Africa’s apartheid policy and joined forces with Asian and African government leaders to push through a resolution making racial equality a condition of Commonwealth membership. South Africa subsequently withdrew from the Commonwealth and was not re-admitted until its apartheid regime ended in the 1990s.
“Working within the Commonwealth, we were able to score more heavily than by sitting outside,” Mulroney said.