With China's growing efforts to expand its international political clout, an authoritarian wave has swept across the globe that forces the Liberal democratic nations like Canada into a corner. However, faced with China's vicious retaliation against Canada for arresting Meng Wanzhou, Canada and Trudeau's government has shown its remarkable resilience in maintaining the integrity of its justice system and the rule of law.
To vent its anger against Canada's arrest of Meng, China has detained two innocent Canadians. It has also blocked canola seeds import from Alberta and suspended the pork products from Quebec, further escalating the bilateral tension. With the Middle Kingdom doubling down its bullying efforts towards Canada, more Canadian politicians seem to embrace the idea of caving into Chinese pressure to release Meng.
The idea of bending a few principles to avoid angering the world second-largest economy was floated as early as December, right after Meng's arrest in Vancouver. Back then, former Deputy Prime Minister John Manley criticized Canadian authorities for inappropriately handling the U.S. request to arrest Meng. The Trudeau government could have employed a little "creative competence" -- by warning Meng not to change flight in Vancouver, he said. Had Canadian officials tipped Meng off, she would have stayed beyond the reach of Canadian law. Canada would not have found itself in a diplomatic crisis, avoiding getting caught in the middle of a tech war between the world's two superpowers altogether. Several former diplomats -- including Gordon Ritchie, a former Canadian ambassador for trade negotiations, shared this opinion.
Former ambassador to China John McCallum suggests it would not be a happy outcome if Meng got extradited. Now Former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien proposed to cancel Huawei executive’s extradition hearing to end a bitter dispute with China.
McCallum and Chretien's entourage believe that Trudeau and Justice Minister David Lamettri's step in Meng's case is the key to resolve the current crisis. If Canada can release Meng, the two Canadians can return home, happily reuniting with their families. At the same time, Canadian farmers would no longer hold their grudge towards Trudeau government for their predicament.
But what they expect Lamettri to do for Meng is what former Justice Minister Jody RB allegedly refused to do for SNC -- interfering justice. By ending the extradition process, Canada will enter China's camp and turn against the U.S. -- its democratic ally, abandoning its obligation to comply with an international treaty.
Undoubtedly, short-sighted solutions will do long-term damages to the country. If Trudeau government takes the course Beijing is demanding, Canada will look weak and anxious, succumbing to the abuse and bully of a thug regime. Beijing will disrespect Canada for its weakness and further escalate its provocations, setting up an excellent example for other authoritarian regimes to follow.
Canada, of course, will not become a coward beholden to Beijing. "It would be a dangerous precedent indeed for Canada to alter its behavior when it comes to horning an extradition treaty in response to external pressure," said Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Canada's strength lies in its respect for international treaties and laws and its firm stance in protecting democratic principles. The Trudeau government has taken that strength to the next level. "As a Chinese Canadian, I am proud of Canada's remarkable persistence in defending our democratic rule of law," I wrote back then.
The nations of the world — Chretien and McCallum, notwithstanding — can take inspiration and comfort from that strength.
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