Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been in Manila for more than a day and a half but has not once denounced the Philippines’ brutal anti-drug campaign which has left thousands dead.
Trudeau has long branded himself as the defender of human rights, however he has remained quiet on the months of gratuitous killings around the Southeast Asia nation.
It’s doubtful he will even mention it until a media conference taking place just before he wraps up his trip on Tuesday, and there’s a possible reason for that.
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Trudeau has been given a rare opportunity, by Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte, to address the East Asian Summit.
It’s a powerful a security group which includes the likes of Russia, China, India, Japan and the United States.
Senior government officials say “the Philippines have gone out on a limb,” to give Trudeau this opportunity, and it’s likely the explanation before his silence on Duterte’s so-called war on drugs.
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Host leaders are allowed to invite someone to address the leaders lunch, but rarely do.
The Prime Minister is in Manila for the fiftieth anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Canada is celebrating forty years of engagement with the 10-nation group.
Trudeau is the first ever sitting Prime Minister to attend the ASEAN summit and he’s being afforded a rare honour of addressing eighteen leaders of a powerful security alliance.
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“It’s important enough that both President Xi and President Trump will be here,” Global Affairs minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters. “This is the top security table in the Asia-Pacific.”
Canada was not invited to the actual meeting of the powerful nations but rather the lunch before. Still, it’s an opportunity for Canada to convince the leaders our country should be included in the group.
Our government believes it can help de-escalate tensions with North Korea and wants to be part of the solution to the Rohingya crisis in Mymanar.
However there’s something much bigger at play here in Manila.
If Canada managed to prove its worth and join the EAS, it would help the Trudeau government’s ongoing campaign to win a much-coveted seat at the United Nations Security Council.
Canada needs a two-thirds majority of the 193 United Nations members to get the non-permanent UN Security Council seat in 2020.
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The last two countries to be absorbed into the East Asia Summit were Russia and the United States. A senior government source said there are no indications the group is looking for members, especially since Canada has been told the EAS already found it challenging to absorb those new members.
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