Commonwealth respects Canada’s decision to boycott CHOGM in Sri Lanka

Thursday, 10 October 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

London: The Commonwealth Secretariat says that it respects Canadian Prime Minister’s decision not to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka next month. Issuing a statement Tuesday, the Commonwealth Secretariat said the Commonwealth is a family of 53 sovereign, independent states, which work by consultation and consensus. “It is up to each member country to determine its level of representation at CHOGM. Canada has made that determination and we respect its decision,” the statement said. Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally confirmed that he will not attend the CHOGM 2013 scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka next month citing the ongoing human rights abuses by the host as the reason for his decision. Harper also threatened to withdraw Canada’s $ 20 million annual contribution to the organisation saying that he had also asked his Foreign Affairs Minister to review Canada’s financial contributions to Commonwealth programs. The Commonwealth, while appreciating Canada’s membership in the organisation and its contribution to the Commonwealth family, said like other members, Canada also benefits from the advantages of Commonwealth membership. The statement pointed out that the decision that Sri Lanka would host the 2013 CHOGM was taken collectively by the Heads of Government at the 2009 Commonwealth meeting in Port of Spain and the leaders confirmed their decision at CHOGM 2011 in Perth. “We expect broad-based participation by Commonwealth leaders in Colombo and a successful meeting next month; one that focuses on issues of collective interest to the Commonwealth,” the Secretariat said. Accepting Canada’s low-level representation to the summit next month, the Secretariat said the Commonwealth Secretary-General looks forward to the participation of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, who will represent Canada at the meeting in Colombo.