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Roy Green: It would be irresponsible to reward Beijing’s ‘hostage taking’

Justin Trudeau should not waiver in his pledge not to swap Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig for Meng Wanzhou, Roy Green says.
Justin Trudeau should not waiver in his pledge not to swap Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig for Meng Wanzhou, Roy Green says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are not only hostages, but the two Canadians dragged into the Meng Wanzhou extradition drama, are kept in tough conditions.

Those points were clearly expressed on my program last Sunday by Guy Saint-Jacques, who was Canada’s ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016. He described how the Two Michaels were for months kept in cells that had no daylight and how they were subjected to hours of daily interrogation.

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This week, contradictory open letters supported by highly profiled Canadians from the worlds of politics, justice, media and post-secondary education have only served to muddy the Meng issue.

One such letter endorsed by 19 signatories, including a former Supreme Court Justice argues Canada may set aside extradition treaty obligation to the United States and release Meng Wanzhou.

READ MORE: Prominent Canadians call on Trudeau to end Meng Wanzhou case to free the Two Michaels

At least one other missive argues the opposite.

On Saturday, a principal author of one of these letters, Conservative Party of Canada Senator Leo Housakos, will join me on air.

The senator will speak to his call for an application of Magnitsky law sanctions against Chinese officials in response to systemic violations of basic human rights in the PRC against the Muslim minority Uighur community, as well as against Spavor and Kovrig. Senator Housakos’ initiative is supported by his colleagues, including several appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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Trudeau has rightly and most recently adopted a more robust position vis-a-vis any release of Meng.

The British Columbia Supreme Court delivered its decision on a Meng release just weeks ago. The Huawei senior executive will remain in luxurious Vancouver detention from where she may continue a legal challenge to her extradition request from the United States, but she may not count on any return to China unless and until she obtains a Canadian judicial ruling.

READ MORE: Caving to China’s demand to release Meng Wanzhou would put Canadians in danger, Trudeau says

Through a foreign ministry spokesman, China has attempted to link a possible Meng release with a perhaps similar gesture by Beijing toward the two Michaels. How can such a hint be viewed as anything other than a blatant contradiction of President Xi Jinping government’s repeated public assertion that the arrests and espionage charges against Kovrig and Spavor have nothing to do with the Meng case?

Were Canada to rise to Beijing’s bait and return Meng to the Peoples Republic with the hope of an unofficial quid pro quo release of the Two Michaels, this nation and its federal government would be calling it appeasement in our time.

Doubt that? Ask any number of the hundreds of thousands of Canadian citizen residents of Hong Kong. Many are expected to bolt for Canada or perhaps Taiwan to escape increasingly oppressive security legislation the Xi government is imposing on that city.

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Trudeau has taken a responsible position vis-a-vis any call for a preemptive release of Meng Wanzhou. He must not waver.

Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.

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