Po­lice were right to ar­rest Meng Wanzhou

National Post (National Edition) - - EDITORIALS -

There’s been an in­ter­est­ing un­der­cur­rent to the story of the ar­rest of Meng Wanzhou by Cana­dian of­fi­cials this week. Meng is an ex­ec­u­tive with Huawei, a Chi­nese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant, which has been long sus­pected of do­ing wire­tap work for China’s in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, and is thus re­stricted from do­ing busi­ness with sev­eral of Canada’s clos­est al­lies, no­tably the United States. Meng is also, as has been widely re­ported, well­con­nected with the rul­ing regime in Bei­jing. And her ar­rest by Canada, on a U.S. war­rant, has led many to won­der if China will re­tal­i­ate in some way against Canada.

And what if it does? Se­ri­ously. What if it does? It prob­a­bly will, in fact. It would not be sur­pris­ing in the least if Bei­jing found some ab­surd ex­cuse to clamp down on Cana­dian ex­ports to China, or can­celled planned in­vest­ments in our coun­try. It’s not in­con­ceiv­able that Bei­jing’s au­thor­i­tar­ian regime might even ar­rest some Cana­di­ans on trumped-up charges as a way of pres­sur­ing Ot­tawa.

These are not triv­ial con­cerns. But was there any re­al­is­tic prospect that Canada would not hon­our the Amer­i­can re­quest for Meng’s ar­rest and ex­tra­di­tion?

At time of writ­ing, there is not a lot of in­for­ma­tion pub­licly avail­able re­gard­ing the case due to a court-or­dered pub­li­ca­tion ban. Sources have told the me­dia that the al­le­ga­tions re­late to Meng hav­ing sought to skirt trade sanc­tions against Iran. But what­ever the spe­cific al­le­ga­tion, Canada and the U.S. are both nations gov­erned by the rule of law. Cross-border lawen­force­ment co-op­er­a­tion is rou­tine and gen­er­ally seam­less. That in­cludes the ex­tra­di­tion of wanted sus­pects, in both di­rec­tions, not least be­cause of our long-stand­ing ex­tra­di­tion treaty to­gether. It is cer­tainly awk­ward for Canada, which has long sought ex­panded trade re­la­tions with China — de­spite its ap­palling hu­man-rights record — to have been asked to make this ar­rest, par­tic­u­larly right when the fed­eral Liberal gov­ern­ment has been try­ing its best to cosy up to Bei­jing. But there were no grounds upon which Canada could refuse.

Which is pre­cisely what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the face of con­sid­er­able Chi­nese diplo­matic and me­dia out­rage. “The ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties took the de­ci­sions in this case,” the prime minister said. “We were ad­vised by them with a few days’ no­tice that this was in the works but of course there was no en­gage­ment or in­volve­ment in the po­lit­i­cal level in this de­ci­sion be­cause we re­spect the in­de­pen­dence of our ju­di­cial pro­cesses.”

Ex­actly right. Canada can’t al­low it­self to be de­terred from liv­ing up to its com­mit­ments and its ideals by threats. If China ex­pected we would be, let it be dis­ap­pointed.

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