FIFA World Cup 2022: Canada’s Sajjan takes part in tournament in Qatar – National |

International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan will travel to Qatar this week for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Global Affairs Canada said on Sunday.

Sajjan will be in Qatar from November 21-23 and will be accompanied by Stephen Ellis, Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester, the statement said.

In addition to cheering for Canada’s men’s national soccer team in Qatar, Sajjan will also attend “a trilateral sports diplomacy event” with US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, the agency added.

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The news comes after Heritage Canada told Global News last month that Ottawa has “no plan” yet to send a FIFA World Cup dignitary to Qatar.

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“The Canadian government is proud that the Canada men’s national soccer team has qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” a Heritage Canada spokesman told Global News on Oct. 21.

“Their qualification is a historic event in itself and all Canadians look forward to cheering them on in November. As of now, there are no plans for a dignitary to attend the event.”

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Government diplomats must “speak up about these abuses” if they attend the 2022 FIFA World Cup: Human Rights Watch

During his stay in Qatar, Sajjan will also meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, to discuss humanitarian aid and international development.

In a statement sent to Global News on Sunday evening, a spokesman for Minister Sajjan said that “promoting human rights is an integral part of Canada’s foreign policy” and “we continue to engage bilaterally with Qatar on key Canadian priorities, including the… human rights, will work together”.

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According to Amnesty International’s 2021/2022 report, there have been allegations of Qatar’s discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ people in its laws and practices, as well as the country’s mistreatment of migrant workers.

On Sunday, Amnesty International criticized Canada Soccer for being reluctant to address the “serious, widespread harm faced by those who made this World Cup a reality” in Qatar.

In an open letter to Canada Soccer, Amnesty congratulated the Canadian governing body “on creating a team whose exciting game and rich cultural diversity have already captured the imagination of the next generation of Canadian sports leaders”.

But Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, urged Canada Soccer to take action off the field.

“Your organization’s deafening silence on fair compensation for affected migrant workers and their families is a failure of leadership and could tarnish Canada’s resurgence on football’s greatest stage,” Nivyabandi wrote.

Amnesty said it had documented that thousands of workers, mostly from South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa, “were subjected to labor abuse, abysmal wages and other exploitation”.

“Despite recent changes to Qatari labor law, migrant workers still experience late or unpaid wages, denial of days off, unsafe working conditions, barriers to job changes and limited access to justice. Adding to the country’s labor record, homosexuality is illegal in Qatar — for example, sexual acts between men are punishable by up to seven years in prison — and Qatari law continues to treat women as second-class citizens in employment, education, and health care.

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Canadian Soccer issued a statement on October 28 on workers’ rights and inclusion in Qatar, noting that FIFA itself acknowledged the alleged human rights abuses in Qatar.

The organization added that it has been “actively engaged on these issues” since the Canada men’s national team qualified for the 2022 World Cup.

“We met with the Embassy of Canada in Doha, Qatar in April, July and September this year, focusing on cultural awareness, local education and event preparation,” it said. “At each meeting, discussions also included the latest updates on human rights and inclusion issues in Qatar.”

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Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, told Global News in an October interview that if government diplomats attend the World Cup, they should comment on reported abuses.

“We want them to take a positive stance on human rights across the spectrum,” he said.

“If they don’t, it will be a disappointment.”

In a travel advisory for Canadians visiting Qatar for the World Cup, the federal government noted that Qatar has many laws that differ from those in Canada, adding that not only is revealing clothing “considered inappropriate” in the country, but Qatar also “criminalizes sexualism”. Actions and relationships between persons of the same sex or unmarried persons.”

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The government also advises Canadians to avoid “religious proselytizing, criticism of the Qatar government or the religion of Islam” as it could result in arrest and prosecution.

— With files by Aaron D’Andrea of ​​Global News and The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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