Canada’s passive playbook on China takes too many pages from Beijing

by Colin Robertson

The Globe and Mail
July 30, 2019

Given the deep and tense chill in the Canada-China relationship, it seems a bit incongruous for a cabinet minister visiting Beijing to tweet about ice cream. Yet that’s just what Small Business and Export Promotion Minister Mary Ng did at a World Economic Forum meeting in early July. There was no public comment about China’s trade embargoes, which have kneecapped our canola, beef and pork industries; nothing about democratic rights in Hong Kong; nothing about Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the two Canadians who have now spent seven months in jail in China, ostensibly in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Now come revelations that a senior Global Affairs Canada official, reportedly at the instigation of the Prime Minister’s Office, asked our former ambassadors to clear their public commentary with the department. When opposition parties called for parliamentary hearings into the allegations, the Trudeau government used its majority to vote them down.

The federal government looks committed to hearing no evil, seeing no evil and doing nothing on the China file, for fear of further upsetting Beijing. That is no policy for Canada.

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