From the sublime to the ridiculous, it would appear, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government will do anything to keep Donald Trump sweet.
Consider the dissimilar cases of Meng Wanzhou and Stephanie Clifford.
The first we won't allow to leave Canada, the second we won't allow to visit. Both, obviously, because that's what the giant boy-man who is president of the United States desires.
Or, more to the point, it's what the Trudeau government thinks Trump wants because we're now at the point we try to anticipate his every likely whim in advance, the better to preserve the USMCA, the NAFTA, or whatever our corporate-rights agreement with the United States is called this week.
This is just pathetic, and it's certainly not what Justin's old man would have done in the same situation -- or even the more diplomatic Lester B. Pearson, who preceded Pierre Trudeau in the job of prime minister of Canada, and who former president Lyndon B. Johnson famously accused of pissing on America's carpet by not toadying up to U.S. warmongering in Vietnam.
Meng, of course, is the executive for Chinese electronics giant and alleged security threat Huawei who we've been obediently holding captive since late last year because the Trump administration wants to use her as a bargaining chip in its ongoing trade war with China.
Oh no, it's all about the rule of law, our treaties with the United States, and the fact Huawei was selling electronic widgets to Iran, you say? Please! The previous paragraph is an accurate summary of the explanation given by President Trump himself of the U.S. demand we extradite Meng to a kangaroo trial and a predetermined prison sentence, followed by, perhaps, repatriation in the event the Chinese fully knuckle under to the art of the deal.
You can believe that pious posh-posh about treaty obligations if you like, but you have to agree that Meng's lawyers were onto something when they wrote Justice Minister David Lametti on Monday arguing the case against her is "palpably" political.
They asserted, therefore, that Ottawa should let her go, and this would be true to "Canadian values, including the rule of law, even in circumstances where this has meant a departure from American foreign policy." They gave the example of Canada's refusal to participate in the tragic and immoral Iraq war, although they could as easily given the example of the tragic and immoral Vietnam war that got Pearson called on the carpet by LBJ.
This is what the elder Trudeau would have done, I'd hazard, and it's embarrassing the Trudeau we have now won't do the same.
Clifford, of course, is better known as Stormy Daniels, the American star of movies of questionable artistic merit, and sometime presidential paramour. Her relationship with Trump seems lately to have been, well, stormy.
Clifford was denied entry to Canada a week ago Friday for "mysterious" reasons, according to the few news organizations that bothered to cover the story, several of them Russian. Those that did mostly used it as an excuse to run salacious photos of Clifford and engage in a little free advertising for the tacky Niagara Falls strip joint that invited her to the Canadian side of the falls for what has been termed a meet-and-greet last weekend. The proprietor of the establishment complains he paid for the trip and is now, in a manner appropriate to that geographical location, over a barrel.
Since Clifford has no criminal convictions, it's hard to imagine what the legal justification for the decision could have been. Perhaps Canada Border Services Agency officials worried she would corrupt our morals -- she's been known to hang around with Trump, after all. Or maybe she just forgot her passport.
It seems more likely, though, this was just another tawdry example of our government shouting "how high" even before Trump's minions yelled "jump!" Despite their differences, these two situations are just different sides of the same coin.
Together, they illustrate a troubling pattern, even though it's doubtful trying to anticipate Trump's wishes ever gets one very far -- at least if the one in question happens to be the government of a country that ought to be able to consider itself an ally of the United States.
Just in case you’re wondering, obsequious as we've become, we're certainly better off with Trudeau's snivelling than we would have been with Andrew Scheer at the helm and Conservatives in power.
I mention this because Scheer was pretending last week in Internet memes cooked up by the former Rebel Media operatives who staff his strategic brain trust to be way more manly than Trudeau when it comes to standing up to China.
He's been doing this to cow-tow, as it were, to Western Canadian beef farmers and slaughterhouse operators, all of whom presumably are going to vote for his party anyway, over the way China's cut off beef imports from Canada to apply pressure on us to release Meng.
No one can say that these export-dependent farmers' fears aren't real enough, but Scheer’s posturing is a bit of a laugh considering that his generation's Conservatives would already have shipped Meng off to a drumhead court at an undisclosed location in the Republic, no doubt without even the legal niceties of an extradition hearing. So would they have embroiled us in the Iraq and Vietnam wars if Conservatives of those times can be taken at their word.
For their part, the Chinese are in a position to squeeze Canadian famers till their pips squeak to make a point, confident that the Conservatives' favourite American, Trump, will do nothing at all to thank Canada for its loyalty, except perhaps to impose some additional tariffs of his own on us.
Indeed, from the Chinese government's perspective, kicking the crap out of Canada is an excellent way to make a strong point to Trump, confident there will be no repercussions from the United States, which is basically in the process of blowing up the world trade order it put in place to serve itself anyway.
Evidence coming out of the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday suggests this may have worked for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump. Leastways, their side chat produced some headlines favourable to both, unlike Trudeau’s brief side conversation with President Xi about Canadian agricultural products and the Canadians languishing in Chinese jails, presumably as hostages to be exchanged for Meng.
Naturally there was no mention of Canada, let alone thanks, from President Trump.
Still, when it comes to diplomacy and geopolitics, I guess, half a loaf is better than none!
David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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