Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

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

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

In addition to cheering on the Canadian men’s soccer team in Qatar, Sajjan will also participate in a “trilateral sports diplomacy event” with US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Mexican 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 plans” yet to send a dignitary to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

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

“Their qualification is a historic event in itself and all Canadians can’t wait to cheer them on in November. So far no plan has been made for a high profile guest to attend the event.”

Click to play video: 'Government diplomats must 'speak out about these abuses' if they attend 2022 FIFA World Cup: Human Rights Watch'

Government diplomats must ‘speak out about these abuses’ if they attend 2022 FIFA World Cup: Human Rights Watch

While in Qatar, Sajjan is also scheduled to meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister, to discuss humanitarian aid and international development.

There have been allegations that Qatar has discriminated against women and LGBTQ+ people in its laws and practices, and that it has mistreated migrant workers, according to Amnesty International’s 2021/2022 report.

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

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The government also advises Canadians to avoid “religious proselytizing, criticizing the government of Qatar or the religion of Islam,” as this could lead to arrest and prosecution.

— With files from Aaron D’Andrea of ​​Global News

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