A year ago this weekend Canada-China relations went into a tailspin after Canadian border agents pulled aside Meng Wanzhou in the Vancouver airport. The RCMP later arrested her, and she has been awaiting an extradition hearing to the U.S., where she is wanted on charges relating to alleged violations of sanctions on Iran.
There’s much we know about what’s happened since: China, in an apparent retaliation, arrested Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, and kept them detained in harsh conditions. The country banned some agricultural products, hurting Canadian farmers. And, on the Canadian side, the federal government has still not made a decision on whether to allow Huawei – the telecom giant for whom Ms. Meng works – access into Canada’s next-generation 5G network.
But there’s much we didn’t know. The Globe’s Robert Fife and Steven Chase recently dug into the circumstances of Ms. Meng’s arrest. What they found reveals new details of how the highest levels of the Canadian and Chinese governments found out about the impending arrest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for instance, found out just as a summit of G20 leaders was wrapping up. Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, was furious that he did not find out about the arrest until after it happened. U.S. senior officials who engineered the arrest did not inform U.S. President Donald Trump until very late in the game.
You can read more in The Globe’s exclusive investigation.
You can also read Ms. Meng’s account of being under house arrest for the past year. She says that staying in her multimillion-dollar Vancouver mansion has meant she has had to slow down the pace of her hectic life, allowing her time to read books and do some oil painting.
Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig, meanwhile, have not seen family members or their lawyers since they were arrested, interrogated and locked away in China.
Globe and Mail editorial board: “It would require a great deal of political courage on the part of a country the size of Canada to denounce every one of the atrocities occurring in Mr. Xi’s China, or to impose sanctions on Chinese officials. We don’t punch in the same weight class as the United States. China would fire back with more economic punishment, Canadian farmers would lose more money and Canadian industries would find themselves shut out by Beijing. The domestic pressure to relent would be immense. That’s why ‘guts’ isn’t the answer. Canada needs to be smart, and exploit Beijing’s weaknesses.”
David Mulroney (The Globe and Mail): “But we should be wary of the idea that the Prime Minister could or should have weighed in to cancel the arrest because of its impact on Canada-China relations. That would set a precedent whereby all future extradition requests concerning China, and – ultimately – any other country big enough to make life difficult for us, would follow a separate, political decision-making track. This would be exploited by China and other rising powers, and risk transforming Canada into a safe haven for fraudsters, sanction evaders and human-rights violators.”
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Ahead of a meeting of provincial and territorial premiers in Toronto today, the leaders of the Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick governments signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to work on nuclear reactor technology. The premiers are set to talk about what they can collaborate on and what they want from the federal government, such as higher increases in the health transfer and reducing interprovincial trade barriers.
As Alberta works to implement cuts to the provincial budget, Premier Jason Kenney says there may be fewer public-sector layoffs if the workers agree to lower wages and reduced benefits. Union leader Gil McGowan said the province could fix its budget by raising taxes to match other provinces and not relying so much on resource revenue.
Some supporters are coming to the defence of embattled federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who has had a rough ride since his party lost last month’s election.
A federal law aimed at speeding up the justice system has had an unexpected effect, paralyzing courtrooms across the country and imperilling verdicts because some judges were unclear whether the new rules applied to them or not.
The Canadian military is not sure what to do about the ceremonial roles held by Prince Andrew, who is losing his responsibilities in the U.K. because of his ties to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.
And Mark Carney, former head of the Bank of Canada and now governor of the Bank of England, will soon add a new job to his CV: in the new year he begins a new role as the United Nations envoy tasked with getting the financial sector on board with fighting climate change.
Rita Trichur (the Globe and Mail) on building Canada-India relations: “But with federal elections now over in both countries, there’s a new imperative for Canada to collaborate with India on cybersecurity through improved intelligence sharing and increased bilateral trade. Canada desperately needs a hedge against China and the United States after being stung by both global superpowers in recent years. And with India expected to become the world’s second-largest economy by 2030, our Commonwealth cousin is Canada’s best bet.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on why premiers might be resistant to a national pharmacare plan: “The answer lies in examining the legacy of Pierre Trudeau. On his watch, Ottawa convinced or coerced provincial governments to join in cost-sharing social programs in health care, social housing, welfare and more. But over the years, the federal government cut back its share of the funding, leaving the provinces in the lurch. The result: provincial governments that have a smaller share of the tax pie, but most of the burden for funding health, education and other social programs.”
Barrie McKenna (The Globe and Mail) on closing the gap between public- and private-sector workers: “A sweeping pay cut for public-sector workers would likely dent economic growth, reduce tax revenue, dampen wage growth in the private sector and accelerate the migration of talent out of the province. A better solution – for Alberta and the rest of the country – is for employers to do more to improve workplace conditions and help narrow the gap.”
Armine Yalnizyan (The Globe and Mail) on how corporate tax rates affect companies: “Tax levels are rarely the first consideration for investors, unless the “investment” is a tax dodge. For any business operation, regulations matter, proximity to markets matter; and so do community features, such as a healthy and well-educated work force, well-maintained infrastructure, reliable energy, transportation and communications systems, and a robust justice system backed by widely trusted social institutions. When these things are equal between locations, taxes will decide where to invest. But these things are not usually equal. And it’s the differences that distinguish places as people and money magnets. Or not.”
Andrew MacDougall (Maclean’s) on the Conservative Party’s appeal: “In other words, the party has a bit of a ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ problem, in that the party membership, which isn’t representative of the country, is down for what their leader is selling, even if the rest of the country finds it unappealing, or at least not appealing enough to win an election. Which means the Conservative Party of Canada can probably forget about power until it can solve the conundrum at the heart of the modern party: how to carry the base along while growing it into more centrist territory.”
Ratna Omidvar (The Globe and Mail) on why Canada must seize, not just freeze, the assets of corrupt leaders: “If we can get access to at least some of this money and channel it back to provide those who are displaced, we will not only ensure punishment and accountability against such corruption, but also help desperate people by taking some of the onus off the host countries. Plus, we remove dark and corrupt money from Canada.”