The Morning Brief – 03.17.21

By Bruce Carson


Retired Lt. General Dallaire speaks out on genocide and the fate of the Uighur Muslims in China

What will it take for Prime Minister Trudeau to finally take a principled stand against abuses perpetrated by President Xi and the Government of China?

Of course, the safety of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor is of paramount concern, and so is their release which doesn’t seem to be on the horizon

The reset of Canada foreign policy as it involves China promised by the former Foreign Affairs Minister Champagne has not materialized

Last week three events took place which helped to shine a bright light on Canada’s confused and confusing relationship with China.

First, an independent legal report by the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights was released which stated that “China bears responsibility for an ongoing genocide against the Uighurs in Xinjiang province in China.”

Second, Retired Lt. General Romeo Dallaire spoke publically in a lengthy interview with Vassy Kapelos on Power and Politics expressing his views on the situation in China. He also suggested how Canada should react to the genocide.

Third, at a Defence Conference held virtually in Ottawa, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned of the rise of a belligerent, aggressive China while the United States has to some extent backing away, withdrawing from some aspects of its former role as leader of the “Free World.”

The report released by the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights made the point that China is a signatory along with 150 nations to the 1948 Genocide Convention which sets out genocide acts are committed “with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part a national, ethnical, social or religious group.”

The five acts of genocide set out in the Convention are : 1) killing members of a group, 2) causing serious bodily harm, 3) creating conditions meant to force the physical destruction of the group, 3) forcibly transferring children to another group and 5) injury or measures to prevent birth.

The conclusion was that China “bears responsibility for an ongoing genocide.”

The House of Commons had previously voted unanimously, with no dissents, to call the actions in China genocide, but members of cabinet did not participate in the vote, Foreign Affairs Minister Garneau abstained. The motion called the persecution of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims genocide.

The response from Prime Minister Trudeau and from Foreign Affairs Minister Garneau was that more evidence from an impartial investigation is needed.

Canadians are well aware of the inconsistency of Canada’s policies towards China from the time Trudeau became prime minister until the present. It started with Trudeau’s naïve and failed attempt at developing a free trade agreement with China. Relations hit rock bottom with the arrest of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on December 1, 2018; Canada was complying with an extradition request from the United States.

The arrest of Ms. Meng was quickly followed on December 10, with the arrest and imprisonment of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on false charges which have never been properly explained, or proven, but we are led to believe they may be placed on trial shortly.

From that time on, looking back over this period, relations between Canada and China have been strained, to say the least.

It has been often stated that Trudeau is pursuing two separate policies towards China at the same time. It is argued that he still believes that he can have a normal relationship while they illegally hold Canadians hostage.

One of the best examples of this bifurcation of the Liberal China policy is that on the same day as Foreign Affairs Minister Garneau announced that Canada was leading a global initiative against arbitrary detention, while refusing to call out China as a prime offender, the Trudeau government as reported by Bob Fife and Steve Chase was partnering with Huawei to fund university research despite well documented security concerns.

These concerns have been raised by the present head of Canada’s Security Intelligence Service, David Vigneault and before him by Richard Fadden as head of CSIS. His statements put the situation forcibly warning Canada to “shed the blinders” of the past and see the world and our place in it as it is.” He argues that “we need a clear eyed view of the world and our place in it.”

These statements about Canada’s view of China hit reality in the interview with Lt. General Dallaire on genocide.

Dallaire spoke of Canada’s “lack of wanting to take the risk of holding accountable, great nations who do horrible things is still prevalent.” He went on to say “you’re either a great nation that believes in its value and what its Flag stands for and what so many have died to defend it; you’re either that or you’re not.”

His answer to the situation in China is for Canada to gather together 15-20 middle powers in order to build momentum to deal with China. When asked in the interview about the fate of the two Michaels, his response was simple “either you’re a great nation or you’re not.” He decried the “absence of statesmanship around the world” and lack of willingness to sustain risks for the good of humanity.

Building a coalition of like minded nations to deal with China is not a new idea but perhaps with Biden’s presidency there may be hope in dealing with China and the two Michaels.

The world is changing as former Prime Minister Harper pointed out last week at a defence conference. He told the conference that the when China was brought into the WTO and similar organizations, conventional wisdom was that China did not have global ambitions and would use its economic might, internally.

However, he warned that we should prepare for a more robust and aggressive China as the U.S. steps back. He said “China is now a competitive rival of the United States across many spheres.” He added “China is a large country with hegemonic ambitions.”

His advice was to say no to Huawei and noted that President Xi, in his view, is likely to remain in power for decades.

If the Trudeau government is not going to stand up to China on genocide and the two Michaels or anything else for that matter, until the Michaels are released-it simply means that Canada will not have an independent foreign policy regarding China until Ms. Meng is released.

The opportunity to settle the Meng-Michaels situation as suggested last year by signatories to a letter requesting that Trudeau and his Attorney General drop the extradition proceedings against Ms. Meng has passed. The recommendation was dismissed out of hand by the prime minister.

Going back to General Dallaire and his suggestion, Canada has the United States onside both in relation to genocide and the two Michaels. Getting out of this international muddle my require Trudeau giving way to leadership by President Biden on both matters.

As Trudeau considers his next moves he should recall the words of General Dallaire, “either you’re a great nation or you’re not.”

To Come

  • U.S. Fed concludes its meetings
  • CPI numbers for February to be released
March 19
  • Retail trade numbers for January to be released
March 31
  • GDP numbers for January to be released

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

– BC