I think this is the result of decades of decaying foreign policy by successive governments, both Liberal and Tory, by domestic forces like a military that hates peacekeeping, a public that dislikes foreign aid and a voting population more concerned with $15 orange juices by various trade ministers than they are about actual trade deals. Canada has not been for Canada since Pearson and Trudeau, instead just kowtowing to whatever whims happen to suit the fancy of the political elite. The real question is, why is Canada even in this situation in the first place?
What we have is the most Canadian of predicaments:
- We do not re-neg on our word. We signed an extradition treaty with the United States and they issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest based on bank fraud; this warrant is technically correct (some might say, the best kind of correct).
- We build close relationships with our friends and believe them trustworthy, sane and willing to commit to a common good. Hence, we signed into an international framework with the United States that includes items such as NAFTA, this extradition treaty and we even have customs pre-clearance. This is entirely based on the idea that the United States is Canada’s friend and a trustworthy partner to build upon this relationship.
- We’re cheap. Yeah, I said it and you know it. You see a $10 handmade soap on display and your first thought is “I’m not paying that.” But, charting our own path costs money. We aren’t willing to fund expensive foreign trips, we don’t spend on building comprehensive relationships with the countries we want to (and instead, we go for low-cost ones where someone else already charted a path… why else do we sell arms to Saudi Arabia?). The most expensive thing that we did for foreign relations was Harper constructing a $10 million dollar artificial lake in Toronto to wow some investors with how he can waste money.
- We’re a democracy; not in the sense that we let people vote for whatever they feel like but that we build institutions to fulfill the purpose of a better society for everyone. Our courts are independent. Our police are independent. Those who question this concept as “naive”, as foreigners, basically don’t get what it means at all to Canadians. For us, an Auditor General pointing out a $10 000 discrepancy is tantamount to someone’s political career going into the trash bin. We don’t joke around when it comes to the sanctity of good government.
When the United States issued that arrest warrant we were put into the worst predicament. We cannot abrogate our obligations to the extradition treaty we signed, the warrant is technically correct and our politicians have no ability to interfere. So, we arrested Meng and gave her due process.
This is the key misunderstanding I see from everyone.
I’ll just repeat it clearly for any non-Canadian who doesn’t get it: Canada is not the United States. We follow the rule of law.
Now, let me expand on that. The issue is that the United States assumed a position of leadership both due to a vacancy of resolve in Canada and also due to their massive unparalleled wealth in a world with just them as a superpower. This created a US-led framework that gives them undue power. However, such power also came with significant responsibility.
When you had leaders such as Clinton and Obama at the helm of the United States, it worked fine. They had reasonable views, they had agendas but they worked within the lawful framework that the United States painstakingly built over the decades to bring about positive outcomes for everyone.
This is why the damage done here with the arrest warrant for Meng is so significant. This is not simply about whether Canada is with USA or with China. It has awakened Canada to the sad fact that we’ve not been caring for ourselves since Trudeau Sr, when we could stop world powers from going to war in the Suez Canal and now we can’t even control our special forces from engaging in combat in Syria. We’re too busy counting pennies.
The US-led framework has become toxic for Canada’s sovereignty and our domestic goals. This damage brought on by the Trump administration is extreme. It’s ejecting all its allies from being able to work with the United States and putting us into a void where we’re not sure what’s supposed to happen.
Does Canada rip up Safe Third Country Act? Do we finally give up on NAFTA and get back our milk industry? Do we rip up the extradition treaty as not worth it? What happens to our open border with the United States as tens of thousands of refugees flow in? What happens to trade/travel/tourism when pre-clearance disappears? Will America care about the guns they smuggle into Canada? Can we cooperate on the opioid crisis?
There’s no more Nazi Germany or Soviet Union to bring us close together. China has not been Canada’s enemy since the Korean War.
Side Rant: People need to stop assuming Canada is the United States.
Seriously. I can’t say this enough.
I saw one idiot remark that Canada didn’t jail our bankers for subprime mortgages. Uh, dumbass, we made those illegal in Canada. Why would we jail our bankers for doing something they couldn’t do?
We were the ones who opened up relations with China in the first place that led to Nixon going to China. Canada has the capacity to build these types of relations, so long as our voting public can believe in it. Largely they do not and that’s why in the past the political elite took it upon themselves to do “the right thing” and not care so much about public opinion. I think Canada’s recent down slide was pandering far too much to demagoguery instead of real leadership.
Our judiciary is independent. Does that mean that Canada can’t write laws that are bad? No. But it does mean that our politicians cannot interfere in court cases and other aspects. Hell, our supreme court appointees aren’t even chosen by the Prime Minister except on paper. The names get recommended up by non-partisan committees that have nothing to do with political parties. Ask the best legal experts in Canada what political affiliation a single one of our justices hold. Not a one will be able to point it out.
Again, we are not the United States. Our judges do not have political affiliation. They are appointed by committees. No amount of hoping Trudeau will do something makes a difference. There is literally nothing he can do.
There’s no fucking pardon. There’s no god damn “he could have stopped the warrant”. There’s nothing! If he had warned China about the warrant, he’d be in jail for crimes. Yes, you can simply jail the Prime Minister if he commits a crime. Because he is not above the law.
Every time I see someone suggest that kind of stupidity, I just know they have done zippo research about Canada.
As a Canadian, I think Canada should return to building its own strong path forward. The cost is very high but recent events have shown us what happens when we do nothing.
An excellent fact filled well argued case. Only to be brought down by one glaring error that demolishes your whole debate. We don’t have pennies.