The G20 summit will be a crucial test of Justin Trudeau’s foreign-policy mettle

by Colin Robertson

The Globe and Mail
June 11, 2019

Is Canada back? Next week’s G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, will measure Justin Trudeau’s weight and influence on the international stage.

The tests for the Prime Minister won’t be in the plenary session, in which leaders must come to grips with “intensifying” trade protectionism, but in what happens in the corridors and pull-aside meetings.

The first test will be whether Mr. Trudeau can convince Chinese President Xi Jinping to let up on Canada. We want our hostages freed, the canola embargo lifted and no more harassment of our meat and pork shipments. The Chinese want Meng Wanzhou returned and telecommunications giant Huawei eligible for our 5G procurement.

Improving relations will require creativity. Why not appoint former prime minister Jean Chrétien as a special envoy, as Brian Mulroney has proposed? The Chinese trust his straightforwardness. Get some “track-two” dialogue going through alternative, but reliable conduits such as the University of Alberta’s China Institute and the Asia Pacific Foundation. Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye was a problem, and when he departs later this month, both countries can name new ambassadors to restart the meetings between ministers and senior officials, a process that has been reportedly stalled.

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