Almost a week ago I said that I agreed with former ambassador to China David Mulroney’s view that making Jean Chrétien a sort of “ordinary” ambassador (one with a limited, special mission ~ our permanent ambassadors are, officially, according to the Congress of Vienna (1815) ambassadeurs extraordinaire et plénipotentiaire) would be a mistake because, as Mr Mulroney said, “The problem with this idea is that it normalizes, dignifies China’s kidnapping of [two] Canadians. And in rewarding China it would make hostage diplomacy even more likely.”
The Globe and Mail reports that “Mr. Chrétien has floated the idea to business executives … for the Justice Minister to exercise his legal authority to stop Ms. Meng’s extradition. The former Liberal prime minister also last week offered to serve as Canada’s special envoy to China to help free the Canadians.“
Fortunately, the Globe says (link above) that “Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has rejected as “dangerous” a proposal from former prime minister Jean Chrétien that the government drop extradition proceedings against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to get China to release two Canadians and end punitive measures against Canada … [and the reports says] … Ms. Freeland warned that Canada should not cave in to pressure from China and short-circuit Ms. Meng’s court case, as sources say Mr. Chrétien has advocated. Such a move would only encourage other countries to bully Canada by arresting its citizens and using them to barter for concessions … [as Mr Mulroney said] … “It would be a very dangerous precedent indeed for Canada to alter its behaviour when it comes to honouring an extradition treaty in response to external pressure,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said on Thursday at the Canadian embassy in Washington as she wrapped up two days of meetings with Trump administration officials and members of Congress … [because] … “When we think about the implications of setting such a precedent, we could easily find ourselves in a situation where, by acting in a single specific case, we could actually make all Canadians around the world less safe.”“
Now, I believe, and I have said, that Chrystia Freeland is a weak and ineffectual foreign minister, not the worst minister in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet and not, perhaps, Canada’s worst ever foreign minister, but, certainly not a good minister of either trade or foreign affairs … I think I may have described her as flakey. But she has, in this case, reached the right decision … perhaps she listened to Mr Mulroney or to her own officials.
It would have been possible and, arguably, even good diplomacy, to have used ‘back-channels’ ~ as I suggested, months ago, through all those Chinese businessmen who attended Prime Minister Trudeau’s “cash for access” events ~ to warn Ms Meng away before she ever boarded a flight that would stop-over in Canada, but suggesting that the Attorney General interfere in an ongoing court case, as Prime Minister Trudeau wanted Jody Wilson-Raybould to do for SNC-Lavalin, is just plain wrong; it’s dishonest, it violates the “rule of law” and so on … it’s also a very Trudeau/Chrétien-Liberal thing to do.
The Chinese are going to keep punishing Canada for our failure to have made good relations with them more important than our fundamental, democratic values. Canada, even under Justin Trudeau, is on the right side of history on that. Prime Minister Chrétien made a proposal that, undoubtedly, sits very well with the Laurentian Elites:
bend beak the law to achieve a short term political goal. Chrystia Freeland has done the right thing in following David Mulroney’s good advice.