Greens call for charges against Meng Wanzhou to be dropped

The Green Party Caucus has released the following statement:

The Green Party is calling on the government of Canada to demand that the United States drop criminal charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and withdraw its extradition request so that Canada can release her. The Trump administration abused the extradition treaty for political purposes. The USA can choose to continue to pursue Huawei in this case and or bring a civil case against Meng but Canada cannot continue to be used as a pawn in a trade dispute between the United States and China

Prime Minister Trudeau is right. We cannot allow the arrest of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor to give Beijing what it wants – Meng’s unconditional release. We must not take steps that further endanger Canadians in the People's Republic of China (PRC) with the message that “kidnapping our citizens works”.

We respect the rule of law and the extradition treaties we have negotiated with other countries. We have to stand by those principles, but we also need to know that the countries we have treaties with are not going to abuse the rule of law for political purposes, and this is what has happened in this case. 

We are clear-eyed about the totalitarian regime that is the People's Republic of China. Greens have been consistent in their call for improved human rights and democratic development in China. We have been outspoken about China’s occupation of Tibet and the treatment of religious minorities, the Uyghur concentration camps, and now the new security law in Hong Kong. 

We have been clear that increased trade with China should have been contingent on improving human rights, the rule of law and allowing for democratic development. The Chretien Team Canada trade missions were based on magical thinking that opening trade with the PRC would lead to a more open society and democratic development. The Harper government doubled down with the lopsided Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) which gives the state-owned corporations of the PRC extraordinary rights and powers to invest in Canada and challenge our democratically established laws and policies. 

We are committed to maintaining strong international relations to achieve our common goals. The power of the Chinese state cannot be denied. We need to be able to exchange information and work together to combat global threats like COVID-19 and the climate crisis. We must not abandon our commitment to human rights and democracy to appease China. 

Nevertheless, we need to demand that the U.S. drops its charges so we can release Meng Wanzhou.

While the People's Republic of China is clearly a totalitarian regime creating a problematic relationship with a free democracy like Canada, the U.S. is supposed to be our closest friend, trading partner and ally. It  has abused that friendship, our trust and our extradition treaty. The Trump administration duped Canada into arresting Meng for political advantage. 

The evidence is clear that the Trump administration asked Canada to execute the extradition order with a day's notice not due to legal concerns, but for dramatic effect in President Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The U.S. administration's request to arrest and extradite Meng Wanzhou could have been made to a number of countries over many months. Meng travels extensively and could have been arrested in nine other countries with which the US has extradition treaties, including Japan, the UK, France, Belgium and Poland, which she had recently visited, or Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina where she was going next.

There was no particular reason to extradite her at all. The U.S. Department of Justice could have brought the same charges against the Huawei corporation, which is how other corporate violations of Iran sanctions are dealt with. The U.S. could also approach this as a civil matter against Meng rather than a criminal matter. In hindsight, it appears clear that the timing of the extradition order on December 1, 2018 was for a spectacle, as the U.S. and Chinese presidents met at the G20 in Buenos Aires to discuss a potential trade agreement. Days later Trump offered to trade Meng’s release for favourable conditions in the proposed trade agreement.

Trump operates as if everything is treated like a real estate deal and negotiation tactics come not from diplomacy, but from bullying. Canada got caught in the middle. Worse, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor got caught in the middle. It was completely predictable that Canadians would be taken hostage in these circumstances. We condemn the PRC for jailing innocent Canadians in retaliation. And we admonish the Trump administration for creating the conditions for Canadian citizens to be treated like pawns in its trade dispute with China.

Between these two superpowers, we should have been able to trust the U.S. to show concern for Canadian interests. In very similar circumstances – the arrest of Su Bin – the Obama administration acted to assist Canadians taken hostage in retaliation. 

It’s time for the Canadian government to stand up to the U.S. administration and demand that it drop the criminal charges and extradition request against Meng so that we can release her. We need to make it clear that we will not be bullied by the PRC or by the White House and that the next time the U.S. tells us there is an urgent reason to arrest a foreign national, we will insist on more and better evidence.

The rule of law must be respected by all. In this instance, Canada respected the rule of law. The People's Republic of China did not, and neither did  Donald Trump.

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