Trudeau wrongly sees Meng case a short-term problem

By Liu Dan Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/29 22:03:40

Photo: IC

The arrest and extradition case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has provoked debates within Canada for some time. There have always been voices that Meng's case is purely political in nature. This is a true dilemma for Canada. Some Canadians have thus called their government to release Meng in order to rid the country of the predicament and reshape Canada's ties with China. Yet those pragmatic suggestions of goodwill have been rejected by Canadian government. 

Since a Canadian court ruled at the end of May that the extradition proceedings of Meng will continue, the relationship between Beijing and Ottawa is again feeling shock.

On June 19, China announced that it had begun the prosecution of two Canadian nationals charged with being spies in China. The wife of a detained Canadian Michael Kovrig, Vina Nadjibulla, said that Canada "needs more leverage" in the fight for her husband's release, including releasing Meng. On June 23, 19 former Canadian parliamentarians and diplomats wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claiming that Canada has the legal right to free Meng and redefine the country's strategic approach to China.

Regrettably, those calls have once again been declined by Trudeau. He said, "The reality is releasing Meng Wanzhou to resolve a short-term problem would endanger thousands of Canadians who travel to China," stressing that, "Canada has an independent judiciary and those processes will unfold independently of any political pressure."

Yet is Meng's case only a short-term problem? Obviously not. The case is impacting the long-term relations between Beijing and Ottawa, Beijing-Washington ties, and even Washington-Ottawa relationship.  

As of independent judiciary in Canada, as the 19 former Canadian parliamentarians and diplomats wrote in the letter, Canadian Justice Minister David Lametti has the legal authority to use his discretion to stop Meng's extradition at any time. The letter cites a legal opinion published by Toronto-based lawyer Brian Greenspan, which said that the minister of justice "may at any time withdraw" the government's support from an extradition case. As early as January 2019, former Canadian ambassador to China John McCallum said Meng has good arguments to fight extradition to the US.

It made people think of the SNC-Lavalin affair, a political scandal involving the attempted political interference with the justice system by Trudeau, which was made public in 2019. Evidence showed that Trudeau improperly influenced then justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a criminal case against Quebec-based construction company SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau stressed that he was "standing up for jobs" in the SNC-Lavalin affair. The excuse was apparently accepted by the public, and Trudeau was reelected in October 2019. 

Was "standing up for jobs" a short-term issue? No. Neither are China-Canada ties and Huawei's 5G technologies, which could bring long-term benefits to the Canadian people and their government. The Trudeau administration should be well aware of this. 

The Canadian government is struggling to deal with the pandemic. The country faces a sluggish economy and social burdens. It won't be a wise choice if the country continues to create diplomatic challenges for itself. 

The author is a research fellow with the Center for Canadian Studies, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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