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Opposition MPs support new committee to probe decaying China-Canada relations

A year after two Canadians were detained in China, Parliament votes for special committee to review Canada’s relations with the Asian giant.
Jason Unrau Montreal, QC

The Conservatives’ motion to establish a special committee to examine Canada’s worsening relations with China succeeded in the House of Commons Tuesday night after garnering support from the Bloc and New Democrats.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole’s motion won the vote 171-148, in the 43rd Parliament’s first division since convening on December 5.

While not a confidence vote against the minority Liberal government, O’Toole’s small victory will establish, as per his motion, “a special committee with the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-China relationship including, but not limited to consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations.”

During debate on O’Toole’s proposed Canada-China committee, Liberal MPs told the House such a configuration was unnecessary as the Commons foreign affairs committee could manage any examination of the ongoing, and deteriorating file.

The vote took place in the House of Commons on the same day, one year ago, when Canadians Micheal Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in China, where they remain behind bars without access to lawyers and facing espionage charges.

Their arrest is viewed as retaliation after Canada detained Chinese tech-giant Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant, while she was transiting through Vancouver International Airport.

As Spavor and Kovrig begin their second year in captivity in China, Liberals have faced questions about why, after the detentions and agriculture bans – beef and pork bans have been lifted by China, while its canola embargo remains – the government continues to back the Chinese-controlled Asian Infrastructure Bank with $256 million.

Overlaying this diplomatic entanglement is more Liberal dithering on a decision whether to allow Huawei 5G technology on our domestic telecommunications networks.

Citing serious national security concerns over the Chinese-controlled company, United States wants its ‘five eyes’ signals intelligence network allies – Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia – to ban Huawei from their respective domestic infrastructure.

Parliament’s nascent Canada-China relations committee will be comprised of six Liberal members, four from the Conservatives and one MP from the Bloc and NDP parties.

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Jason Unrau
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