Despite Chinese threats, Canada will continue building ‘coalition’ with allies, Champagne says – National


Canada will continue working to gather allies in its fight with China despite recent threats.

In an interview with the West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said threats from China last week that Canada should stop gathering allies to speak out against its detentions of two Canadians after the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou will not stop the work at building a “coalition” of partners.

READ MORE: This is why China’s feud with Canada is only getting worse

“We’re going to continue our advocacy, we’re going to continue building the coalition to make sure that the voice of Canada is heard. There’s a number of discussions at high levels. We will always defend Canadians in situations like that,” he said.

“I don’t think threats are necessarily useful or helpful in any of these situations.”

WATCH BELOW: China threatens ‘repercussions’ on Canada if Huawei 5G banned

Global News had initially requested an interview with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale or International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr to speak about China but was told Champagne would be the only one available to speak on the matter.

Freeland and Carr, as well as Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, are among those heading to Davos for the World Economic Forum later this month, where it is expected they will continue work to get allies on board with supporting Canada against China.

Last week, Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye warned against doing exactly that.

WATCH BELOW: Trudeau says they’ll continue to remind China that Canada abides by rule of law

But Champagne said the allies supporting Canada realize that the risks go beyond what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the “arbitrary” detentions of two Canadians and reflect broader concerns about the need to maintain the rule of law against authoritarianism.

“It’s not just about these two individuals,” he said.

“I think the coalition realized if you want to have a world order where the rule of law prevails, where human rights prevail, we have to stick together. We have to speak with one voice and everyone in the world watching should defend these two Canadians against this arbitrary detention.”

The goal, he said, remains to find a diplomatic solution.

He also wouldn’t say whether the threats and rhetoric coming from China should give Canada pause when deciding whether to allow Huawei to build the 5G telecommunications infrastructure set to come up for auction either this year or next.

“The lens we will be applying will be the lens of national security. We’ll listen to our experts but I would say for the rest, we’ll do what’s right for Canada,” he said.

“Whatever other people think or so, we will do what’s right for Canada.”

The government is currently conducting a review of the security of Huawei’s 5G technology.

No date has been set for when that review will be complete.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Justin Trudeau looking for support from allies amid China feud – National


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to shore up international support in the diplomatic feud with China over Canadian detainees, including the pending death sentence to an alleged drug smuggler from British Columbia.

Trudeau spoke with the leaders of Argentina and New Zealand Monday as part of Canada’s ongoing efforts to build support for Canada in its dispute with China.

China criticizes Trudeau’s remarks on death sentence decision, says he should ‘respect rule of law’

Trudeau and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern discussed “the detention and legal treatment of Canadian citizens in China and the need for all countries to respect judicial procedure and rule of law,” said a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The prime minister and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri “discussed the arbitrary detention of two Canadians in China and the importance of safeguarding international norms, including judicial independence and respect for the rule of law. They also discussed China’s application of the death penalty to a Canadian citizen,” his office said.

Canada has received support from other allies including the United States, the European Union, France, Britain, Germany and Australia in its ongoing efforts to win the release of two Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arrested last month.

WATCH: Canada-China relations take another hit

The international outreach has sparked Chinese ire, including a scathing attack from Beijing’s envoy in Ottawa that it smacks of “Western egotism and white supremacy.”

China shot back at Trudeau on Tuesday in expressing “strong dissatisfaction” with his criticism of a death sentence handed down this week to a previously arrested third Canadian, an alleged drug smuggler.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced in 2016 to a 15-year prison term but on Monday, after a new trial, he was sentenced to death.

Trudeau said Monday he was very concerned to see China “acting arbitrarily” by applying the death penalty and that Canada will do all it can to intervene on Schellenberg’s behalf.

Analysis: China pulling out all the stops to force Canada to back down

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday Trudeau should “respect the rule of law, respect China’s judicial sovereignty, correct mistakes and stop making irresponsible remarks.”

Hua told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing that China expresses “our strong dissatisfaction with this” and is cautioning its citizens about travelling to Canada.

The foreign ministry’s consular affairs office also published a notice Tuesday saying that Canada has recently “arbitrarily detained” a Chinese national _ a reference to Canada’s arrest of Chinese telecommunications executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States.

It urged Chinese citizens to consider their personal circumstances and “fully assess the risks of going to Canada for tourism.”

The notice mirrored Canada’s revision of its own travel advisory Monday that warned of the “risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws” in China.

WATCH: China escalates criticism of Canada’s fidelity to rule of law

Global Affairs says on its website that Canadians are still advised to “exercise a high degree of caution” when visiting China _ which is unchanged _ but it now explains the warning is “due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.” It also now warns of the death penalty, as well as penalties for drug-related offences.

Canada and China made a concerted effort to boost tourism last year to take economic advantage of the growing middle class in the People’s Republic. The initiative appeared to bear some fruit with travel in the first 10 months of 2018 exceeding the number of Chinese tourists during the same period in 2017.

Statistics Canada figures show more than 663,000 Chinese travellers visited Canada between January and October, compared with more than 620,000 between January and October 2017.

Canadians urged to exercise caution in China amid ‘arbitrary enforcement’ of laws

Hua’s comments add to increasingly strained relations between the two countries since Canada detained Meng on Dec. 1, followed soon after by China’s detention of Kovrig, a former diplomat and Spavor, an entrepreneur, on allegations they were undermining national security.

Rights organizations said Tuesday’s remarks by the Chinese foreign ministry raise serious questions about possible political interference in China.

The Chinese media began publicizing Schellenberg’s case after Canada detained Meng, who faces extradition to the U.S. on fraud charges.

Schellenberg’s aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones, said the family is awaiting any news regarding an appeal.

Schellenberg’s lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said his client has 10 days to contest the latest sentence.


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Canada’s ambassadors urging allies to push for release of Canadians detained in China: Freeland – National


Canada’s ambassadors around the world are launching a concerted campaign to pressure allies to push for the release of two Canadians detained in China, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Saturday.

In a teleconference call with reporters, Freeland said Canadian ambassadors would reach out to their counterparts to discuss the “arbitrary detention” of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, which she said set a “worrying precedent.”

“I will continue in the coming days, along with Canada‘s ambassadors around the world, to be speaking with foreign counterparts about this issue,” Freeland said. “Our ambassadors… will be speaking directly in an organized effort with their counterparts.”

READ MORE: Chinese official slams Huawei exec’s arrest in response to question about Canadian detentions

The United States, United Kingdom and European Union have expressed their support for Canada, but some countries are yet to comment publicly.

Kovrig and Spavor were detained in the wake of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou‘s arrest in Vancouver earlier this month. Meng was arrested at the behest of U.S. authorities, who want her extradited there to face charges of fraud.

Freeland reiterated that Meng, who has been granted bail in Vancouver, has been given “full access to due process” in her legal proceedings.

WATCH: How tension between Canada and China will impact Canadians

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was personally involved in the situation, Freeland said, although she declined to say if or when Trudeau would pick up the phone and call Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“We continue to be in discussion with China,” Freeland said. “This is clearly a difficult moment in our relationship with China. It’s important to keep on talking and raising the issues directly with them.”

WATCH: China questions Canada’s treatment of ‘illegally detained’ Meng Wanzhou

Freeland’s remarks came a day after the Canadian government issued a written statement saying it was “deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities” of Kovrig and Spavor, and formally demanded their release.

— With files from Reuters

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Huawei: bien choisir ses alliés


Le Canada se retrouve au coeur du litige opposant la Chine et les États-Unis depuis l’arrestation de Meng Wanzhou lors d’un vol de correspondance à Vancouver. La directrice des finances de Huawei, numéro deux mondial de la téléphonie mobile, serait soupçonnée par les États-Unis d’avoir fourni de l’assistance technologique à l’Iran, en contravention des sanctions internationales. Cette affaire forcera le gouvernement Trudeau à un exercice d’introspection. Quels sont ses valeurs, ses intérêts et ses véritables alliés ?

La Chine exerce des pressions considérables pour que Meng Wanzhou, la fille du fondateur de Huawei, soit libérée sans délai. Le vice-ministre des Affaires étrangères, Le Yucheng, a menacé l’ambassadeur du Canada à Pékin, John McCallum, de « conséquences graves » si cette royauté commerciale est extradée aux États-Unis. Des médias chinois comparent l’intervention des autorités canadiennes à une « prise d’otage » et à un « enlèvement ».

Première source de malentendu. Si la Chine peut manipuler les juges comme des marionnettes à l’échelle intérieure, c’est tout le contraire dans les pays démocratiques, au sein desquels la primauté du droit est une valeur cardinale. Le Canada et les États-Unis sont liés par un traité d’extradition. C’est donc devant les tribunaux que sera décidé le sort de Mme Wanzhou. Celle-ci pourra faire valoir tous les arguments qu’elle souhaite, et même se prévaloir d’un droit d’en appeler de la décision si jamais la cour ordonne son extradition.

Certes, le droit n’est pas à l’avantage de la principale intéressée. Le fardeau de preuve requis est peu élevé pour obtenir l’extradition d’un prévenu vers un autre pays. Il suffit de présenter une preuve sommaire, et de faire la démonstration que les crimes pour lesquels la personne est recherchée aux États-Unis trouvent leur correspondance en droit canadien.

Ce serait une terrible erreur que la ministre de la Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, cède aux demandes de la Chine et qu’elle bloque le processus d’extradition. Non seulement cette décision minerait la crédibilité du système judiciaire, mais elle enverrait un bien mauvais signal à l’allié américain à un moment crucial de son bras de fer avec la Chine sur les tarifs douaniers.

Donald Trump n’inspire aucune sympathie, mais les États-Unis ne se résument pas à la pénible expérience que constitue sa présidence. Ce pays demeure le principal partenaire économique du Canada et son principal allié. Autrement dit, le Canada ne peut pas se permettre de négliger ou d’affaiblir ses relations avec les États-Unis sous prétexte qu’il poursuit un but stratégique de rapprochement commercial avec la Chine.

Depuis l’élection de Justin Trudeau, le Canada envoie des signaux mixtes sur la Chine. Il semble prêt à bien des compromis, sur la question du respect des droits la personne et du cyberespionnage, notamment, pour satisfaire le géant chinois.

Le Canada est l’un des derniers pays membres de la communauté des « five eyes », qui partagent des renseignements secrets, à ne pas avoir bloqué Huawei du développement du réseau de téléphonie cellulaire 5G. Les États-Unis, l’Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande jugent que l’implication de Huawei dans le futur réseau 5G présente un risque pour la sécurité nationale.

Huawei, une entreprise fondée par un ancien officier de l’Armée populaire de libération, Ren Zhengfei, souffre d’une grande proximité avec le régime de Xi Jinping, comme la plupart des grandes entreprises chinoises. Elle est forcée de collaborer avec les autorités lorsque cela lui est demandé, entre autres pour des questions de sécurité intérieure. L’ancien directeur du Service canadien du renseignement de sécurité Richard Fadden a sonné l’alarme sur le risque posé par Huawei dans le développement du réseau 5G. La trop grande proximité de Huawei avec le régime de Xi, jumelée à la longue tradition d’espionnage de Pékin, préoccupe au plus haut point ce spécialiste du renseignement. Le 5G de Huawei pourrait devenir un cheval de Troie pour les activités d’espionnage de la Chine.

Huawei est très bien implantée au Canada. Comme le révélait le Globe and Mail, l’entreprise a financé 13 universités canadiennes, à la hauteur de 50 millions de dollars, pour participer au développement du réseau 5G. Il est minuit moins une dans les efforts pour freiner son expansion : Telus et Bell utilisent déjà la technologie chinoise dans leurs propres réseaux. Citant des sources anonymes, le Globe rapportait encore en fin de semaine qu’il en coûterait près d’un milliard de dollars pour chasser Huawei du 5G. Il s’agit en quelque sorte du prix de l’inaction et de la négligence.

Le gouvernement Trudeau ne pourra repousser encore longtemps une décision inéluctable, s’il tient un tant soit peu à préserver les alliances et la sécurité nationale du Canada. Nous n’avons rien à gagner dans un Internet 5G sous dominance chinoise, et beaucoup à perdre.


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Meurtre d’un journaliste: les Saoudiens, des alliés toxiques


Le meurtre présumé du journaliste Jamal Khashoggi au consulat de l’Arabie saoudite à Istanbul, en Turquie, vient rappeler à la face du monde l’inconfort dans les relations pernicieuses qu’entretiennent les régimes démocratiques occidentaux avec l’une des pétromonarchies les plus rétrogrades et les plus répressives du Moyen-Orient.

Selon des informations non confirmées, attribuées aux services de renseignement turcs, Khashoggi aurait été interrogé, torturé, tué et démembré par des agents saoudiens, le 2 octobre dernier, dans le consulat de l’Arabie saoudite à Istanbul. Le régime du prince héritier Mohammed Ben Salmane Al-Saoud a nié toute implication dans la disparition de Khashoggi, un ressortissant saoudien tombé en disgrâce en raison de ses critiques du régime.

À la suite d’un entretien avec le prince, lundi matin, le président américain, Donald Trump, a évoqué la possibilité que l’assassinat du collaborateur du Washington Post soit l’oeuvre de tueurs solitaires, une hypothèse qui sied à merveille aux intérêts saoudiens.

Pour M. Trump, c’est la dernière d’une suite d’explications sans l’apparence d’un fil conducteur. Dans les premiers jours de ce funeste feuilleton international, le président américain a minimisé l’importance de la disparition de Khashoggi, en indiquant qu’il n’était pas un citoyen américain. Samedi, il a menacé l’Arabie saoudite d’un « châtiment sévère » s’il s’avère qu’elle est impliquée dans la mort de Khashoggi. Dimanche, il a indiqué qu’il n’avait pas l’intention de suspendre les livraisons américaines d’armes à l’Arabie saoudite, de peur de perturber l’économie américaine. En réponse à cette escalade verbale, l’Arabie saoudite a exprimé son intention ferme de riposter à d’éventuelles sanctions.


C’est le fin mot de l’affaire. L’empreinte économique de l’Arabie saoudite sur les États-Unis est suffisamment importante pour que ceux-ci ménagent leurs critiques. La question ne pourrait se résumer à l’importation du pétrole saoudien et à l’exportation des armes américaines. Riyad est aussi un allié américain au Moyen-Orient. Un allié imparfait, répressif, insensible aux revendications pour l’avancement des droits de la personne, en particulier ceux des femmes. Le prince hériter se présente comme un réformateur, alors qu’il libère les forces répressives, à l’échelle intérieure et aussi au Yémen, théâtre d’une guerre impitoyable. Un allié imparfait, mais le seul sur lequel les États-Unis peuvent encore miser pour contenir l’autre puissance régionale au Moyen-Orient qu’est l’Iran.

Ce mélange d’intérêts économiques et géopolitiques explique en partie les réponses mesurées de Paris, de Londres et de Berlin, qui ont exigé une enquête impartiale sur la disparition de Khashoggi. Le Canada vend toujours des blindés à un régime qui flagelle les blogueurs et assassine les journalistes, a déploré aux Communes le député bloquiste Luc Thériault, en référence à l’emprisonnement de Raïf Badawi et à la disparition de Khashoggi.

La ministre des Affaires étrangères, Chrystia Freeland, n’a pas l’intention de faire marche arrière à ce chapitre. Le gouvernement Trudeau a sans doute gardé un amer souvenir de son intervention maladroite pour exhorter l’Arabie saoudite à libérer des militants pour les droits de la personne emprisonnés à tort, en août dernier. En riposte, Riyad a expulsé l’ambassadeur du Canada, en plus de suspendre les relations commerciales et les vols aériens entre les deux pays. Ainsi, la ministre Freeland s’est contentée lundi de joindre sa voix au concert des nations timorées, en exigeant à son tour une enquête « approfondie, crédible et transparente » sur la disparition de Khashoggi.


En résumé, le Canada va défendre l’avancée des droits de la personne, mais pas trop, et surtout pas au point de compromettre des relations diplomatiques déjà tendues à l’excès avec l’Arabie saoudite. Le moment est pourtant propice pour une intervention concertée des régimes occidentaux, dans la tradition du multilatéralisme, afin que le vent des réformes souffle plus fort que celui de la répression en Arabie saoudite. Depuis le printemps arabe, en 2011, le régime cherche à satisfaire les volontés d’émancipation du peuple et à moderniser ses institutions, sans rien céder de son pouvoir monarchique.

L’affaire Khashoggi, ne serait-ce que par l’indignation qu’elle suscite, offre un prétexte pour exiger plus d’efforts des Saoudiens, et non l’inverse.


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Justin Trudeau’s fortunes have changed as provincial Liberal allies fall


As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks at the political landscape across the country, he must be reminded of just how true is the political axiom that time is your enemy.

When he won a majority mandate just two years ago, the country was in the midst of what could best be described as a love affair with the Liberal Party. Governing in seven provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, the prime minister saw friendly, ideologically aligned colleagues virtually everywhere he looked.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney and Ontario Premier Doug Ford are shown in a photo posted on Twitter by Alberta's United Conservative Party to promote a “Scrap the carbon tax” event.
United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney and Ontario Premier Doug Ford are shown in a photo posted on Twitter by Alberta’s United Conservative Party to promote a “Scrap the carbon tax” event.  (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

What’s more, things were about to get better. Two more Progressive Conservative governments would soon fall in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador.

And even if some of those provincial governments had only loose ties to their federal cousins, shared voter bases provided more than enough incentive for everyone to play nicely in the sandbox.

It allowed the federal government to move quickly with minimal pushback on a variety of policy issues. Notably, the government’s commitment to carbon pricing received only a murmur of dissent from the provinces. Issues that have caused great acrimony with provinces in the past, such as health care transfers and immigration levels, caused little more than a peep.

No one, it seems, was going to say boo to this mouse.

For many conservatives, it represented a nadir for the movement in this country. After all, try as he might, Brad Wall, the only right-leaning premier left, could only do so much.

How times do change.

Quebec’s election on Monday evening of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) became just the most recent example of a remarkable shift in Canadian politics over the last two years.

CAQ is now the newest party to come to power eager to fight with the federal government. CAQ is particularly concerned about immigration levels and the federal government’s lack of control over our border, but Premier-elect François Legault is also gearing up for a fight with the federal government over the use of religious garb in official governmental positions.

Other fronts have opened, too. Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives have joined a lawsuit with Saskatchewan to fight the federal carbon tax plan, a fight that Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has promised to join.

Just last week, the Progressive Conservatives, led by businessman Blaine Higgs, bested rising-star Liberal Premier Brian Gallant and his government in New Brunswick. Higgs, too, has complained of the federal government’s overreach on multiple issues and has vowed to fight the carbon tax.

And there is more to come.

Alberta’s leader of the United Conservative Party, and a former Trudeau foe in Ottawa, Jason Kenney, looks set to join the insurrection when the province’s election is held this coming spring.

And trouble doesn’t just lurk on the right: British Columbia elected a New Democratic government last year that has fought with the federal government over the establishment of a pipeline in the province.

It is an ominous scene for a federal government that has prided itself on calming rocky provincial-federal relationships. For a government that has branded itself as a unifying one, it is a new world to have so many fronts open on so many key battlegrounds.

So far, the federal government has done little to tamp down the fight. Premier Ford, in particular, seems to enjoy fighting the federal government on any number of fronts: from the carbon tax to refugee politics to Toronto City Council, the premier seems happy to thumb his nose at a government he sees as deeply out-of-touch with Ontarians.

Ford will soon be joined by Kenney, who is a savvy political operator with a bone to pick with the prime minister. The two together will cause headaches for Trudeau in the run-up to his re-election campaign.

While the other premiers will perhaps not be so bold or so loud, they have indicated that they are far more willing than their recent predecessors to stand with the bucking provincial governments than with Ottawa.

Perhaps, in their own funny way, they are uniters after all.

Jaime Watt is the executive chairman of Navigator Ltd. and a Conservative strategist. He is a freelance contributor for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @jaimewatt


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