Prime Minister Trudeau is torn between competing demands in Canada efforts to free the “two Michaels” from a Chinese prison. Depending on the media outlet, he is being told to get tougher with China, although it is nor clear what that would look like, or to do a straight swap of detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou for the two Canadians. But today, Justin Trudeau dismissed out of hand calls from former parliamentarians and diplomats to release Meng saying such a move would embolden China to detain other Canadians to further its political goals.
Trudeau’s comments come as a group of 19 high-profile Canadians, including former foreign affairs ministers Lloyd Axworthy and Lawrence Cannon, penned a letter to Trudeau this week saying Justice Minister David Lametti should intervene to free Meng. They said Meng’s release would give Canada the chance to “redefine its strategic approach to China.”There is no question that the U.S. extradition request has put Canada in a difficult position. As prime minister, you face a difficult decision. Complying with the U.S. request has greatly antagonized China,” the letter says.
“I respect these distinguished Canadians who put forward that letter but I deeply disagree with them,” Trudeau told reporters Thursday. “They’re wrong in their approach.”
He said countries shouldn’t be allowed to snatch Canadians to get what they want from Ottawa.
“The reality is releasing Meng Wanzhou to resolve a short-term problem would endanger thousands of Canadians who travel to China and around the world by letting countries know that a government can have political influence over Canada by randomly arresting Canadians,” Trudeau said.