Under the fearless leadership of our great Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada’s foreign policy appears to have been reduced to an endlessly repeated pathetic bleating.
“We are a country of rule-of-law," they bleat, over and over again, although what relevance that has to the case immediately involved, namely the extradition proceedings against the Chinese business executive who was arrested at the command of President Trump and his gang while passing through Vancouver on December 1, is not immediately clear to me.
Of course we are a country of rule-of-law, we all know that. But under our extradition law it is written that no one can be extradited for a crime that is not a crime in this country, and secondly, that only the Minister of Justice can extradite anyone anywhere.
So, that being so, why doesn’t our government take its courage in both hands and apply these parts of the law?
It is good to see the former Prime Minister Jean Chretien espousing exactly the view I myself expressed in a Chronicle eleven days ago, when I allowed myself the fantasy of being Foreign Minister for a day, and recommended that we should release Ms. Meng Wanzhou, the executive in question, giving as our reason that there are insufficient reasons to extradite her. (In passing I might mention that it is the first time I have ever found myself in agreement with Mr. Chretien, since I first rubbed up against him when he was Minister of Indian Affairs in 1969, when he proposed a new law that would have abolished the trust relationship imposed on the federal government for “the Indians and lands reserved for Indians,” under the British North America Act of 1867. I should mention that, as a reporter just beginning to take an interest in the indigenous people, I knew almost as little as Mr. Chretien himself about the subject. But one thing I did know was that the Indians had never asked for such a change in all the many consultation meetings the government held with them in preparation for the new law, as became immediately obvious from the unanimous rejection of the proposed law by Indians across the country.)
Our government now says that politics cannot be allowed to interfere in the application of any laws. although Mr. Trump has already politicized the extradition request by musing to the effect that, if he could only get a good trade deal with China, maybe he could abandon the extradition request.
In these circumstances, it seems to me it would not be out of line for our responsible minister --- that would be the Minister of Justice ---to tell the U.S. government that his legal experts had advised him as follows: the extradition cannot proceed because the United States sanctions imposed on Iran consequent upon Mr. Trump unilaterally withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Ms. Meng is accused of violating, is not a Canadian law, and that consequently his decision, as the only person authorized under the law to make this decision, is that the extradition should proceed no further.
Exactly what I foresaw might happen, of course, has happened: all the cast-iron establishment thinkers in the land have arisen as one to denounce Mr. Chretien’s proposal. It would set a terrible precedent, they moan. It would be an act of terrible weakness. It would be to submit to the bullying of a great power.
So, instead of clearing up this question in the only way possible, instead of taking the only step that could set at rest our troubled farmers, suffering from Chinese refusal to buy their goods, our fearless Foreign Minister instead goes down to Washington where she busies herself trying to convince American government officials that their president should intervene with the Chinese government in an effort to obtain the release of the two Canadian businessmen held hostage in China. China has made it clear that the only action on our part that could return our relationship with them to normal, would be the release of Ms. Meng.
It is a remarkable thing to observe our Canadian government, which, if it had had a little more experience and cunning, would never have arrested Ms. Meng in the first place, willingly box itself into a corner with its repeated bleating about rule-of-law, ignoring the drastic impact of this idiotic policy on our farmers and business people. It is even more remarkable to know that our responsible minister has gone to Washington, the power base of a President for whom bullying is second nature, to plead with them to, “for heaven's sake, please help us from the dilemma into which our intransigence has landed us.” (Imaginary conversation.)
Once again, the only comment I can offer, apart from again wishing for a resumption of commonsense in the government, is “wot the hell, wot the hell…”