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A member of the military lowers the Sri Lankan national flag in Colombo, October 19, 2011.
A member of the military lowers the Sri Lankan national flag in Colombo, October 19, 2011.
(DINUKA LIYANAWATTE/REUTERS)

JOHN NOBLE

Snubbing the Commonwealth will only weaken Canada’s influence

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision not to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka will be a relief to host President Mahinda Rajapaksa and will be strongly supported by the Tamil community in Canada as well as both federal opposition parties.

Mr. Rajapaksa will not have to endure the humiliation of open public criticism of his regime’s poor human rights record by a Prime Minister who has made human rights a central theme of his foreign policy. In his stead, Mr. Harper will send a parliamentary secretary, which is not just a snub to Sri Lanka but to all the other heads of government who will be attending. It is also a snub to the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth and Prince Charles, the heir to our throne, who will be opening the CHOGM in Colombo.