Don’t give in to China’s hostage diplomacy, Trudeau urged

More than 20 prominent Canadian thought leaders have penned an open letter to the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warning that ending Meng’s extradition process would set a dangerous precedent. 

The letter comes in response to the call by several high-profile Canadians demanding the federal government end the extradition case against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou as a way to secure the release of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

But notable experts on Canada-China relations, Canadian national security and defence, law, and human rights[1] encourage Trudeau to remain firm in his commitment to the rule of law in Canada and internationally. 

As the letter states, “the cost of such appeasement would be the safety and security of Canadians all over the world, the independence of our judiciary, and the integrity of our sovereign decision-making capacity.”

The signatories include Brian Lee Crowley, Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute; Joanna Baron, Executive Director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation; former federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Christopher Alexander; Asher Honickman, president of Advocates for the Rule of Law; Scott Newark, former policy advisor to the Minister of Public Safety; Con Di Nino, retired Senator; Jonathan Manthorpe, author of Claws of the Panda; Matthew Fisher, veteran foreign correspondent; and Charles Burton, China expert and former Canadian diplomat in Beijing, among many others.

A prisoner exchange would create a false equivalence between the scrupulously fair and transparent proceedings against Meng Wanzhou and the scandalous and arbitrary treatment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the letter says.

The thought leaders warn that acceding to hostage diplomacy sets a dangerous precedent that will confirm China and other authoritarian regimes in their belief that hostage diplomacy works. This endangers not only Canadians living or travelling abroad, but also citizens of our allies

Ending the extradition proceedings would isolate Canada internationally, especially among the many friends and allies who have publicly stood by us during this ordeal, damaging in particular our relationship with the US administration and Congress, the letter warns.

To abandon the extradition hearings of Meng Wanzhou because of such improper political pressure means nothing less than an abandonment of the rule of law, both domestically and internationally, the letter reads.

The experts tell Trudeau that holding firm against China’s brazen mistreatment of Kovrig and Spavor does not mean Canada is without options in this geopolitical conflict. Among the many possibilities available, Ottawa should issue a travel warning to Canadians that it cannot guarantee their safety whilst travelling to China and apply Magnitsky sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for the detainment of Kovrig and Spavor.

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