Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has made one thing clear with his deafening silence: he wants 'green energy' now, ethics be damned.
On August 31, Guilbeault left the annual conference of the China Council for International Cooperation for Environment and Development (CCICED), concluding the first meetings attended by Canada since Parliament passed a 2021 motion condemning the country for genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Province.
"For more than 30 years, the Council has served as a vehicle to advance policies and practices that prevent pollution, protect biodiversity and combat climate change," said Environment Canada in a statement, marking the end of the 2023 Council meetings.
"The Government of Canada will challenge China when it ought to and will cooperate with China when it must," they said. "One of the key objectives of our strategy is to ensure a sustainable and green future for Canadians."
Guilbeault has remained notably silent on China's use of slave labour to make solar panels, reported Blacklock's Reporter.
"We know that 41.7% of polysilicon used to produce solar panels, for all the environmentalists in the House, comes from Xinjiang," Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi told the Commons in 2021.
According to a 2021 research paper on slave labour by the U.K.'s Sheffield Hallam University, Longi Green Energy Technology Company Limited — a global leader in solar module manufacturing — is a purveyor of slave-made goods.
"Longi is a customer of many of the polysilicon companies engaged in labour transfers in the Uyghur region," said the Sheffield report In Broad Daylight: Uyghur Forced Labour And Global Solar Supply Chains.
Reuters reported that U.S. Customs intercepted solar panel shipments from Longi, whose contractors have since been implicated in wrongdoing.
As recently as last year, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board held $4 million in Longi shares.
In 2022, the Senate human rights committee learned that the 'green energy' industry had a track record of importing slave-made goods.
"Look at issues like modern slavery and the environment […] from an international standpoint," testified Chris Crewther, head of the U.S.-based Global Fund to End Modern Slavery.
"If you look at the renewable or clean energy supply chain issues, you have situations such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo where over 35,000 children are in child labour mining cobalt, which is used in lithium-ion batteries in electric cars," said Crewther.
"Another example on the environmental topic is the balsa wood in Ecuador, which is being illegally logged and is impacting Indigenous populations. That balsa wood is being used for wind turbines."
"You are helping one country produce renewable energy while deforesting another nation and impacting Indigenous populations linked with forced labour," said Crewther. "We need to look at those issues holistically globally."