It’s not often that I have anything good to say about US President Donald Trump but, as the global media is reporting, he did the right thing yesterday and signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law.
He had threatened, just days ago, to veto the bill if that might have helped him to secure a better trade deal with China. In the end, for whatever reasons, perhaps he calculates that the annual review of the impact of ‘one country, two systems‘ on Hong Kong’s civil liberties which the Act requires will be like a sword that he can use to threaten China over the longer term. he has, as the Financial Times (link above) says added another layer of complication to the world’s most important international relationship.
But what about Canada? A few days ago I suggested that the right thing for Canada to do was: “to speak out now, today, to congratulate the people of Hong Kong on making their voice, their democratic voice heard above the din of police bullets and tear gas shells.” What have we heard from Prime Minister Trudeau? Nothing … silence; it’s shameful. A day before that I also suggested that the Canadian government should call in the new Chinese Ambassador Cong Peiwu and reprimand him for scolding Canada for even daring to think about doing something like the US did and I sad that Canadian officials should “Tell the Chinese ambassador that as soon as Parliament reconvenes the Government will introduce a bill using Magnitsky Law provisions to apply various sanctions against very senior Chinese officials who are considered to be guilty of ordering the violation of the rights of the people of Hong Kong.” Do you think that’s going to happen? Of course not. He will not put principles ahead of trying to secure market access for Québec and Ontario … but not for Western Canadian oil and gas.
Watch this space later today and tomorrow for some further comments about the decline and fall of Canada in the world.