August 14, 2020

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Trump rewards loyalty with broken promise

Editorial

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/7/2019 (408 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Such a nice, heartwarming message U.S. President Donald Trump sent to Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to mark Canada Day! Unfortunately, the knife was still sticking out where Mr. Trump had stabbed Canada in the back at the G20 heads of government meeting in Osaka three days earlier. That’s the thanks we get for loyally doing our duty under the Canada-U.S. extradition treaty.

"Since its founding, Canada has represented a powerful, positive force in the world," the U.S. president said in a Canada Day message to the Governor General. "Our people share many strong bonds, including a common history; close cultural, economic and familial ties; and a deep sense of duty to promote peace and prosperity in the world."

A nicely expressed sentiment, cruelly mocked by Mr. Trump’s own conduct.

The United States last December used the extradition treaty to involve Canada in America’s campaign against Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant. At the request of the U.S. government, Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, as she changed planes in Vancouver because the U.S. has charged her with failing to tell Huawei’s bankers that the company was doing business with Iran in defiance of U.S. sanctions.

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co., leaves her house for a hearing at the Supreme Court in Vancouver in May. (Jimmy Jeong / Bloomberg)

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co., leaves her house for a hearing at the Supreme Court in Vancouver in May. (Jimmy Jeong / Bloomberg)

In retaliation, China immediately imprisoned two Canadians in China. More recently, shipments of Canadian canola and meat products to China have been cut off on specious grounds.

These harsh consequences for Canadians are none of this country’s responsibility. Mr. Trump and his administration dragged Canada into this fight and Canadians are taking one for the team — in the belief that Canada and the United States still are a team.

It seemed we were a team when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Washington on June 20 to ask for Mr. Trump’s intercession on Canada’s behalf in his scheduled meeting at Osaka with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mr. Trump said he would represent Mr. Trudeau. "We have a meeting set up with President Xi, and it’s obviously on the big transaction that we’re talking about and negotiating," Mr. Trump said. "Our people are actually speaking now, and we’ll see what happens with that. But anything I can do to help Canada, I will be doing."

When Mr. Trump met President Xi, however, no word was spoken about the Meng Wanzhou situation

When Mr. Trump met President Xi, however, no word was spoken about the Meng Wanzhou situation. The subject didn’t come up, Mr. Trump told reporters after the June 28 meeting. The June 20 promise to help Canada was forgotten eight days later.

In that context, Mr. Trump’s Canada Day bromides about the strong bonds between Canada and the United States and the two countries’ deep sense of duty to promote peace and prosperity in the world read like a bad joke. Canada, admittedly, showed a deep sense of duty toward the United States by carrying out the arrest the U.S. asked for. Mr. Trump, by contrast, promised to help Canada when Mr. Trudeau was standing beside him and then threw Canada under the bus when the time came to deliver the promised help.

Cynics teach that there are no loyalties in international relations, only interests. The United States is currently trying to back out of its trade war with China, and if that entails stabbing loyal Canada in the back, then interest must trump loyalty. This is worth remembering next time the U.S. asks for Canadian help with an arrest and an extradition.

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