Canada should release Meng Wanzhou immediately

Meng Wanzhou

Canada takes the cake for dissembling, if not downright dishonesty in the case of the arrest of China’s Huawei chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, and the subsequent retaliatory arrest by China of two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

Canada pushed its sanctimonious button.  Shocked and appalled by China’s “hostage diplomacy” and its downright disregard for international law.  The smugness gauge increased tenfold this past week as Meng’s trial in Vancouver was coming to a close while China sentenced Spavor to 11 years for spying.

The US accused Meng of misleading HSBC, a British bank based in Hong Kong, and putting the bank at risk of violating US sanctions against Iran. Yes, US is applying a US law, found to be illegal, in another country involving a British bank based in Hong Kong, which is Chinese territory. Canada complied with a US request to arrest the Huawei executive for extradition to the US to face fraud charges. 

Right after Meng’s arrest in 2018, US president Donald Trump openly stated that he wanted her as a bargaining chip in his trade war with China.  The fact that the US sanctions on Iran was deemed illegal by the United Nations and the international community, plus Trump’s brazen remark, should have been enough for Canada to let Meng go because it was clearly politically motivated; instead our country self-righteously claiming that we are a law abiding nation and is merely living up to an extradition agreement with the US.

This past week the political establishment took out its rhetorical weapons: China is a serial international law-breaker; is engaging in hostage diplomacy; it’s blackmail; we should boycott the upcoming winter Olympics in China; we should stop pussyfooting around and trying to appease China, etc.

All this coming from a Canada that committed a politically motivated and illegal act by arresting and trying a Chinese citizen, one who represents China’s technological challenge to the US; all this from a country that has accompanied the US into breaking international law on a number of occasions within recent memory. To wit:  Canada participated in the illegal invasion of Afghanistan (the UN Security Council did not approve this NATO-led war until after the invasion); it held the American bully’s coat in the illegal invasion of Iraq; it was cheerleader for the US attempt to dismember Syria; Canada led the campaign to overthrow Venezuela’s  democratically elected  government from as early as 2002; supported the US when it kidnapped and exiled of Jean Bertrand Aristede, Haiti’s only democratically elected president; played sidekick to the self-appointed world’s policeman in many other criminal episodes. All this was certifyably illegal.

Now that China is flexing its considerable economic and political power to have its citizen released, mealy-mouthed columnists speak of Canada being caught between the two great world powers. Poor, hapless, law-abiding Canada. The government says we have no choice but to let our courts do its job because our courts are independent and guided by legal principles. The government does not say that the Federal Minister of Justice has the power to stop the court proceedings and send Meng home.

Sadly, all this could have been avoided if Canada had followed the belated advice of former foreign minister John Manley: “ I think it was a good opportunity for a little bit of creative incompetence on the part of Canadian authorities and somehow just miss her [at the Vancouver airport and let her plane take off].” In other words it should have said to the Americans, oops, sorry, our right hand didn’t know what our left hand was doing.

Sadly, we’re now wringing our unctuous hands, knowing full well that one way or another Meng will be sent home and the two Michaels will be released.

Our Justice Minister should hold his nose, do the right and sensible thing, and end this tomorrow with the stroke of pen.