Categories for Musings
Meng Wanzhou, who did wrong, goes free.
The two Michaels, who didn’t, remained imprisoned until tonight.
Welcome to justice in the Justin Trudeau era: the guilty win, and the innocent lose.
It all happened yesterday, a Friday afternoon, which is typically when governments do the dirtiest deeds, in the hope that fewer will notice. But we noticed.
Here’s what happened: as this newspaper has previously reported, Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was facing prosecution for bank and wire fraud charges in the United States — for allegedly lying about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.
She was detained at Vancouver’s airport in 2018, at the request of American authorities, and was facing extradition to the U.S. And she’s been fighting extradition ever since.
Huawei, meanwhile, was charged by the Americans with operating as a criminal enterprise, stealing trade secrets and defrauding financial institutions. It has pleaded not guilty and still faces prosecution.
But Meng Wanzhou isn’t anymore. U.S. Justice Department officials reached a deferred prosecution agreement on Friday afternoon with Meng Wanzhou that freed her from house arrest in Canada and enabled her to jet back home to China.
It was, the Washington Post dryly noted, “a major development in an ongoing investigation that could have geopolitical implications.”
It sure could. But not, apparently, for Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who were illegally imprisoned in China on bogus charges of espionage for more than 1,020 days.
Spavor and Kovrig — whose family members allege have faced torture — remained behind bars. Any attempts by the government of Justin Trudeau to secure their freedom had failed, utterly.
Pointing out that the Trudeau regime is useless internationally isn’t really front-page news, of course. Trudeau’s efforts internationally have been a laundry list of abject failure: he failed to get a seat on the United Nations security council.
He failed to boost foreign investment in Canada. He failed to rebuild our reputation as peacekeepers in international hotspots. Internationally, Trudeau has led Canada to defeat after defeat.
The Meng Wanzhou deferred prosecution agreement is yet more evidence of that. How in God’s name can she be permitted to go free, and the two Michaels weren’t before now? How could Trudeau permit the Joe Biden administration to cook up such a deal without addressing the plight of our own citizens before now?
Under the so-called deferred prosecution deal, federal prosecutors agreed to defer — and then ultimately drop — the charges against Meng.
To anyone who has followed this sordid affair, it has been obvious that the imprisonment of the two very innocent Michaels was China’s petulant and illegal response to the detention of Meng Wanzhou — even though Meng’s “detention” was mere house arrest and included plenty of posh shopping sprees and high-end jaunts around British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.
Trudeau, now returned to power with a mere minority, was immediately under more pressure than ever before to secure the freedom of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. The single largest roadblock to their release had been removed.
Would Trudeau try? Would he be successful?
Joe Biden was. The two Michaels are coming home because of him. Not Justin Trudeau.
— Kinsella was special assistant to Jean Chretien
Twitter restricted People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier’s account, preventing him from posting any new messages for 12 hours after he used the platform to encourage his supporters to “play dirty” with journalists covering his campaign.
The offending tweets singled out three reporters, calling them “idiots” and describing their efforts to question him as “disgusting smear jobs.” Bernier tweeted out their email addresses and encouraged his followers to “play dirty.”
Erin O’Toole looked like he was doing good. Justin Trudeau looked like he was doing badly.
What went wrong?
Well, as a public service, Yours Screwly put together a few random, linkless thoughts.
There are 10. Here they are:
1) As I opined in these pages mid-campaign, the assault weapon thing hurt O’Toole. It was in his platform, and it was therefore pretty hard to erase. When the Conservative leader realized it would hurt him with urban women, he tried to execute a pivot, but it was too little, too late. The assault weapon thing hurt him.
2) The unvaccinated candidates issue hurt O’Toole, too. Why? Well, the pandemic is the biggest economic, cultural and political event of our lifetimes. Eighty per cent of Canadians favour vaccines, masks and tough rules. O’Toole was offside on vaccines. People noticed.
3) But — if you are fair — you have to admit O’Toole otherwise ran a good campaign. He came across as decent and relatively centrist. He was positive, he wasn’t angry. The fact that he couldn’t improve his seat count means something important.
4) And what it means is this: There isn’t a Liberal media conspiracy. There isn’t even a political Liberal conspiracy. But there are Liberal voters in Canada — lots of them. As it becomes much more urban and diverse, Canada is much more Liberal. That presents a structural problem for the Tories.
5) A lot of Tories will think the solution to that is changing their leadership, yet again. But that’s superficial. That’s stupid and knee-jerk. That’s what they always do, and it never really works, does it? Their problems go a lot deeper than that, Virginia.
6) Consider this: Justin Trudeau was accused of groping a woman. He indulged in racist tropes, many times. As prime minister, he obstructed justice and leads a deeply corrupt administration. But he still clings to power. How?
7) The fact that a corrupt, allegedly groping, parlour-room racist could win again says more about us than it does about him. It says the country’s attachment to the Liberal brand is real and deep. It says Canadians are usually going to give Liberals (and a celebrity Liberal leader) the benefit of the doubt.
8) Lots of folks are saying that the election was about nothing. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t at all. It confirmed something pretty big: The country has changed. And if you want to defeat Liberals, you need to change, too, Conservatives.
9) That means making no mistakes, at all. That means campaigns that are micro, not macro — fight in regions, inch by inch. That means getting life-and-death issues — guns, vaccines — right the first time. That means having the very best candidates and the very best policies and the very best strategy.
10) But here’s a final thought, folks: The sun is up, where I am. The birds are chirping. Prime ministers come and go, but the country always goes on. And it’s a pretty great country, Justin Trudeau notwithstanding. If you want to change it, do that. There’s no time like the present.
— Warren Kinsella was Jean Chretien’s Special Assistant