Deteriorating relations with China caused the Prime Minister more grief during question period Wednesday, which followed Finance minister Bill Morneau into committee where he was grilled over the government’s $256 million investment in the dictatorship’s infrastructure bank.
Morneau repeated at parliament’s finance committee what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons: their 2017 decision to backstop the Beijing-based bank “helps people in less developed countries in the world” with green infrastructure and the like.
“I’m happy to talk about our continuing commitment to help the global economy,” said Morneau, after Trudeau waxed in the Commons about “promoting inclusive economic growth” with other international partners who chipped in, “even the UK.”
But Conservatives want the government to pull its investment altogether following the Chinese blockade of Canadian canola, initiated in March and now threatening $2.7 billion in agriculture exports.
While China claims it discovered pests in canola seed shipments, the subsequent embargo is seen as further retaliation for the RCMP’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who faces extradition to the United States.
“(Trudeau) continues to exert such weakness around the world,” charged Scheer. “The government of China is holding two Canadian nationals unlawfully, they have blocked Canadian exports and this PM had done absolutely nothing to stand up to them.”
The Conservative leader has also criticized Trudeau for leaving the ambassador’s post vacant after firing former cabinet minister John McCallum from the diplomatic role in January.
In the days following Meng’s December 2018 arrest, during transit through Vancouver International Airport, China detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and have since accused the pair of espionage.
As tensions worsened between the two countries, McCallum gave a press conference to select Chinese-language media in Toronto where he discussed ways China could contest Meng’s pending extradition to the U.S. for alleged violations of American sanctions on Iran.
Adding a further dimension to the diplomatic impasse between China and Canada is the United States’ request last November that allies ban Huawei’s 5G hardware from their domestic telecommunication networks.
Austrailia and New Zealand – part of the Five Eyes surveillance network that includes the U.S., UK and Canada – have agreed and reports from Britain suggest that it will keep 5G components from its core network.
The Canadian government, however, has not made its official determination on Huawei 5G tech, but on Tuesday Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters a decision would come before this year’s federal election.
Espionage and suspicious technology aside, that China’s economy grew a fantastic 6.6 percent last year and the regime has joined the global arms and space race, left Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre skeptical of Morneau’s investment rationale.
“You claim that China is a desperate economy in need. Why do you think that China and this China-controlled infrastructure bank needs Canadian tax dollars more than Canadians do?” said Poilievre. “That country is maxing out its military and space programs.”
Recent findings from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute indicate that China and the United States spend more on their militaries than all other countries combined.
The country is also expanding its coal-fired power plant inventory as Canada moves to phase ours out and mandate a federal carbon tax on all hydrocarbon energy sources.