NEWSLETTER

Fifty years later, Canada-China relations are chillier than October in Ottawa

Politics Insider for Oct. 15: The points of friction between Canada and China mount, Ottawa's poop offers a realtime glimpse into COVID-10 spread and the feds sell an ejection seat

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Fifty years ago this week, the first prime minister named Trudeau established diplomatic relations with China. But the official word from both countries shows little recognition of any longstanding friendship. Three days ago, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian dismissed Meng Wanzhou‘s arrest in Vancouver as an “attempt to gang up on China” that is “totally futile and counterproductive.” The next day, Zhao said the ongoing chill is “not what China wants to see,” but that it’s up to the Canadian side to make things right. Yesterday, Zhao accused a “hypocritical and weak” Canada of withholding evidence.

Only a few days ago, Bob Rae, Canada’s new ambassador at the United Nations, forcefully opposed China’s arbitrary detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor at the UN General Assembly (watch Rae’s remarks). Meanwhile, a federal snapshot of Canada-China relations paints a rosy picture of the myriad social, economic and academic connections tying the two nations together—even as the feds’ official travel advice warns that visitors should beware of Chinese authorities who could accuse them of “endangering national security.”

The Globe and Mail reports the influential Canada-China Business Council marked the half-century of diplomatic relations with its annual general meeting at a Four Seasons ballroom in Beijing. The Globe says the audience loudly applauded Chinese state officials who lambasted Canada’s arrest of Meng, and offered only silence to Trade Minister Mary Ng and Ambassador Dominic Barton‘s rebuttals. The dinner was sponsored by the very same Huawei at which Meng served as chief financial officer.

There are silver linings. Barton, who was granted virtual consular access to the two imprisoned Michaels last week, secured similar access to Robert Schellenberg, the Canadian convicted of drug crimes who’s been sentenced to death. The feds have repeatedly called for Schellenberg’s clemency.

But China won’t like this: This morning, a phalanx of parliamentarians and non-profit reps will hold a press conference demanding that Trudeau’s government “convert words of concern into actions” on what they call a human rights crisis in Hong Kong. Irwin Cotler, a longtime Liberal cabinet minister, will stand alongside NDP MP Jenny Kwan and Conservative Sen. Leo Housakos. Dozens of their colleagues have signed a joint statement that calls for Magnitsky sanctions for Chinese officials and asylum for persecuted Hong Kongers. China has formally complained about Trudeau’s remarks on HK.

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal ruled that certain countries were dumping hot-rolled deformed steel concrete reinforcing bar—what you might know as rebar—on the Canadian market. The feds will slap anti-dumping and countervailing duties on those imports. Among the offending countries: China.

We’re No. 2! Yesterday, Toronto Star data showed Ottawa was second in the province in a rolling seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. A surging virus in the nation’s capital is no surprise to researchers at the CHEO Research Institute and the University of Ottawa. For months, they’ve tracked the “signal increase”—a fancy term for measured volume—of virus in Ottawa’s wastewater. Their readings offer near-realtime data that mirrors the coronavirus’s community spread.  Said one researcher: “We’re strapped to a rocket right now, unfortunately.”

The saga of disgraced former senator Don Meredith has now hit the taxpayer. Meredith resigned in 2017 amid repeated claims of harassment in the workplace. The Senate recently accepted all the recommendations in a report submitted by retired judge Louise Otis, who assessed the various claims. The upper chamber will pay $498,000 in compensation to nine of Meredith’s former staff members.

Ejection day: You’ve got one final chance to bid on a real-life ejection seat that once called a CF-101 Voodoo home (watch a similar model in action here). Canada snapped up its fleet of Voodoos, a supersonic interceptor, after the Avro Arrow’s cancellation. Now, the feds are selling the seat that is “currently not serviceable,” but worth at least the $500 bid on the government’s surplus site.