POLITICS

Calgary MP disagrees with Chinese dance troupe ban

05/22/2012 09:45 EDT | Updated 07/22/2012 05:12 EDT

The fight over the Alberta government's decision to cancel bookings by a traditional Chinese performance troupe has prompted criticism from a Calgary MP.

The province has cancelled the 2013 bookings made by the Shen Yung Performing Arts group following a dispute with the managers of government-owned auditoriums in Calgary and Edmonton.

Conservative Rob Anders says it appears Alberta is caving to pressure from Beijing as Premier Alison Redford prepares for an upcoming trip to China.

Anders has long been an out-spoken critic of what he calls a "brutal regime" in Beijing. He's accusing the Alberta government of being afraid of offending China.

"I just think it's a shame that we're not allowing this to go forward and I do think it's an opportunity for the powers that be to demonstrate their belief in freedom of speech," he said.

In the past, the Chinese government has pressured venues in other countries to cancel or delay Shen Yung Performing Arts events because the troupe highlights Chinese persecution of the spiritual movement of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa.

The Falun Dafa Association of Calgary presents Shen Yun's Calgary performances.