N.S. premier told Chinese officials that Canadians need to feel ‘safe’ during visits

Premier Stephen McNeil speaks in Halifax on Thursday, April 18, 2019. The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

Nova Scotia’s premier says he told a senior Communist Party official during trade talks that Canadians need to feel “safe” and protected by the rule of law as he boosts tourism ties between his province and China.

Stephen McNeil said Thursday it’s best to maintain a dialogue with China, even as the federal Public Security minister decried the nation’s formal arrest of two Canadian citizens it has been holding since December.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia hopes to replicate Chinese trade success with Europe

There’s been escalating tension between the nations following the RCMP’s December arrest in Vancouver of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou after an American request for her extradition.

After Meng’s arrest, China imprisoned two Canadians – ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor – and accused them of violating China’s national security, with both still locked in a Chinese prison.

Story continues below advertisement

McNeil said his relationship with the governor of Guangdong province, a region just north of Hong Kong, continued to improve during his recent trip – and trade and cultural exchanges are still growing as a result of six years of visits.

WATCH: Stephen McNeil tops list of premiers racking up international travel

Click to play video: 'Stephen McNeil tops list of premiers racking up international travel'
Stephen McNeil tops list of premiers racking up international travel

However, McNeil said during his trip – the first by a Canadian premier since the escalation of tensions – he let governor Ma Zingrui and other Chinese officials know Canadians need to feel secure.

Sponsored content