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Hello,

At times, the Canadian government has been careful about how it’s described the motivations behind the arrests of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor by the Chinese state.

Not so much any more.

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“It has been obvious from the beginning that this was a political decision made by the Chinese government and we deplore it and have from the very beginning,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters this morning.

“This using of arbitrary detention as a means to advance political gains is something that is fully unacceptable in a world based on rules.”

Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor were arrested in December, 2018, days after Canadian police arrested Chinese businesswoman Meng Wanzhou. Authorities at the Vancouver airport detained her because of an extradition request from the U.S., where Ms. Meng is wanted on charges of fraud.

While Ms. Meng has stayed at a Vancouver mansion and attended hearings in a transparent extradition process in a Canadian court, Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor have spent 560 days in facilities where the lights are kept on throughout the night and they are facing a Chinese court with a 99-per-cent conviction rate.

So far, Mr. Trudeau and the Canadian government have not wanted to engage in “hostage diplomacy,” by staying out of the court process against Ms. Meng despite the treatment of Canadians in China.

Could China’s Communist Party try to increase the pressure on the Canadian government by arbitrarily arresting more Canadians? That’s one idea being floated by a senior Chinese journalist today who works for a newspaper that may be state-controlled.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

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TODAY’S HEADLINES

Mr. Trudeau also promised today that the government would do more to ensure there are “consequences” after three migrant workers have died from COVID-19 on Canadian farms. Those outbreaks have been concentrated in Ontario. To the west, B.C. may provide some lessons on how to keep farm workers safe.

More than half of the respondents to a recent survey on racism who identified as Chinese-Canadian say they have been insulted or called names because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The public service is starting to figure out how to return to the office, though remote work is expected to continue for some time.

The Canadian government says it is in talks with the U.S. Trump administration about its attacks on the International Criminal Court.

And Ben Mulroney is leaving his job as anchor of CTV’s etalk after a scandal involving his wife Jessica.

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Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on Alberta and a looming referendum on equalization: “Explaining how federal equalization works is complicated, but within the world of Alberta politics it has become shorthand for a grievance much broader than the program itself. The province has long paid more in federal taxes than it gets back in federal spending. The outflow of billions has become of greater importance as many Albertans believe some other parts of the country – and members of the federal Liberal government – are at best indifferent, and at worst hostile, to the oil and gas industry.”

Jody Wilson-Raybould (The Globe and Mail) on justice reform and her time in the Liberal cabinet: “In those early years in government, I believed that we would take bold steps forward on these issues. We did not. Instead, patience was preached. The excuses were always the same. There are other priorities that had to be dealt with first. The political moment was not right. Urgency to see these major reforms was seen as naïve. Or, when it was deemed too late, we were ‘out of runway.’ But who should be patient in the face of injustice? Why is it those suffering injustice are always asked to keep waiting?”

Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) on deferred payment programs during COVID-19: “Consumers cannot afford to be complacent. Incorrect information about deferred payments can depress your credit score, impairing your ability to borrow money down the road. Errors are particularly damaging for those with shorter credit histories, including young adults and new immigrants.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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