CAW Questions Denial of Chinese Visa

January 17, 2011, 1:46 PM EST

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The CAW is questioning the denial of a visitor's visa to China for one of its top officials, Assistant to the National President and former NDP MP Peggy Nash.

Nash was supposed to be travelling to China as part of a tripartite (labour, management and government) delegation organized through the Department of Human Resources and Skills Management following the renewal of the Cooperation Framework between the Chinese and Canadian governments.

The Chinese consulate in Toronto indicated that the visa would be ready for January 10, in anticipation of a January 14 departure. Nash was later told that the visa would not be granted, but consular officials declined to give a reason for its decision.

As the labour representative, Nash had been asked to make a presentation to Chinese government officials in Beijing about collaboration between government, business and labour as well as the process of free collective bargaining and the role of labour unions.

Nash said she was surprised that her visa was denied as she would be travelling with the Deputy Minister of Labour, the honorable Hélène Gosselin. Bank of Montreal Employee Relations Director Normand Côté (Chair of the Canadian Employers Council) was also part of the delegation.

"I'm left wondering if being outspoken on human rights issues in China, particularly the treatment of Tibetans and the Uyghur people (Muslim minority) could have played a role in this decision," said Nash. As a former MP, Nash was a member of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet Committee and helped bring in the motion recognizing the Dalai Lama as an honorary Canadian Citizen.

Nash is a long-time trade union activist and her role as part of the delegation was to advocate the establishment of sectoral/ industry unions in China and support for meaningful collective bargaining, including democratically electing union representatives. Nash also questioned whether the labour unrest this past summer in southern China and the Chinese government's fear of the growth of democratically-elected labour unions may have contributed to the visa denial.

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