January 20, 2019 12:00 pm

Despite Chinese threats, Canada will continue building ‘coalition’ with allies, Champagne says

WATCH: Canada will continue to stand up for human rights along with other countries, says Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, despite China's warning to stop courting allies.

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Canada will continue working to gather allies in its fight with China despite recent threats.

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In an interview with the West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said threats from China last week that Canada should stop gathering allies to speak out against its detentions of two Canadians after the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou will not stop the work at building a “coalition” of partners.

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“We’re going to continue our advocacy, we’re going to continue building the coalition to make sure that the voice of Canada is heard. There’s a number of discussions at high levels. We will always defend Canadians in situations like that,” he said.

“I don’t think threats are necessarily useful or helpful in any of these situations.”

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Global News had initially requested an interview with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale or International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr to speak about China but was told Champagne would be the only one available to speak on the matter.

Freeland and Carr, as well as Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, are among those heading to Davos for the World Economic Forum later this month, where it is expected they will continue work to get allies on board with supporting Canada against China.

Last week, Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye warned against doing exactly that.

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But Champagne said the allies supporting Canada realize that the risks go beyond what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the “arbitrary” detentions of two Canadians and reflect broader concerns about the need to maintain the rule of law against authoritarianism.

“It’s not just about these two individuals,” he said.

“I think the coalition realized if you want to have a world order where the rule of law prevails, where human rights prevail, we have to stick together. We have to speak with one voice and everyone in the world watching should defend these two Canadians against this arbitrary detention.”

The goal, he said, remains to find a diplomatic solution.

He also wouldn’t say whether the threats and rhetoric coming from China should give Canada pause when deciding whether to allow Huawei to build the 5G telecommunications infrastructure set to come up for auction either this year or next.

“The lens we will be applying will be the lens of national security. We’ll listen to our experts but I would say for the rest, we’ll do what’s right for Canada,” he said.

“Whatever other people think or so, we will do what’s right for Canada.”

The government is currently conducting a review of the security of Huawei’s 5G technology.

No date has been set for when that review will be complete.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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