There is a lot for which I can forgive Justin Trudeau. After all, he is our Prime Minister. But I draw the line when he screws around with my weekly column, which he did in spades late yesterday.
Everyone who writes on a regular basis knows you don’t just sit down at the keyboard and tap out a thousand words or so. You have to think about it, often for a long time. Then, once you have picked your topic, it takes research to gather enough material to write about. Then, you have to figure out an angle that will interest your readers and stimulate their corpuscles. Sometimes they agree with you and sometimes they get really teed off. Stir things up. That is the object of the exercise.
So that’s what I tried to do this week. I saw some comparison between how Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi were dealing with the lingering government shutdown in the United States and how the Canadian Government was stickhandling its precarious relationship between the two largest trading partners in the world, the U.S. and China. This particular problem arose of course, because the American Government asked Canada to arrest Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei, China’s mega telecom company, and hold her for extradition.
I actually thought Canada, who was clearly between a rock and a hard place on this one, had a pretty neat strategy. On the one hand, it cooperated with the United States, citing the rule of law and agreeing to hear the extradition case against Wanzhou. On the other hand, I thought they were sending a wink, wink message, to the Chinese Government, through John McCallum, Canada’s Ambassador to China, that the rule of law also meant that the U.S. had to prove their case and it didn’t appear to be a particularly strong one. Even the Toronto Star, that great bastion of left- wing propaganda, questioned whether McCallum’s actions were a gaffe or simply the truth.
I for one, was willing to give this round to Trudeau, to give him a pat on the back for finding a way to wiggle between two superpowers, both of whom were exerting heavy pressure on him and on Canada. I believed it was a strategic move to which someone had given a lot of thought.
But then, late yesterday, Justin Trudeau caved. He fired John McCallum and blew my theory all to hell. One has to wonder why?
John McCallum is no neophyte. This is not his first rodeo. He is a consummate politician. He has served in key portfolios for more than one Prime Minister. He is not my brand of politician, but he is an experienced one. He does not shoot off his mouth indiscriminately. He does not stray easily off the beaten path. Unless with age, he is losing his marbles (which I doubt), he knew exactly what he was doing. So, what is really going on here?
Did Donald Trump call up the Prime Minister and rake him over the coals for suggesting the U.S. had a weak case for extraditing Meng Wanzhou? Did he threaten Canada in some way? After all, the President has a pretty big bully pulpit and has never been shy about using it. As well, the President had just suffered his own setback with Congress in relation to the Government shutdown. When it came to “caving” maybe he wanted a partner!
In my view, for Donald Trump, this whole business with Huawei and Meng Wanzhou, is not about the rule of law. It is all about politics and leverage. It is about holding a trump card (no pun intended) over the Chinese when it comes to negotiating trade. He is shamelessly using Canada to get it done and doesn’t give a damn if it ruptures Canada’s relationship with China. It would not surprise me at all if Trump put pressure on Trudeau to fire McCallum, especially since just earlier in the day, the Prime Minister had defended his Ambassador.
It could be too, that John McCallum fell on his sword and took one for the team. He is of an age where he can retire with a very handsome pension. Maybe he was ready to come home. Maybe he facilitated getting the message the Government wanted to be heard by the Chinese, and then allowed himself to be fired, to allow Trudeau deniability when being chastised by Trump. A bit of a stretch maybe, but stranger things have happened in politics.
As important as Canada is, it is still too small a nation to be at odds with China and the United States at the same time. Trump has put us in that position. I hold no particular brief for China but in this instance, related to the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, I hope our legal system prevails over Trump’s political maneuvering. I hope she gets off.
And speaking of getting off……I am going to do just that for the next month. I am going to take a break, but we have some great guest columnists lined up for Listen Up. They are, Dave Wilkin, Kate Aben, Scott Aitchison and Bob Young. So stay tuned, and I will see you in March!
Don’t miss out on Doppler! Sign up for our free newsletter here.