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Politics Politics Briefing: China rebukes Canada’s Freeland

Hello,

The Chinese government has issued an unusually direct rebuke to Canada – and specifically the Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

A Chinese spokesperson said the Canadian government had “made irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs repeatedly, and grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs.”

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Ms. Freeland was referenced by name in a state television broadcast. Not mentioned was the European Union or its foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini, who had made a joint statement with Ms. Freeland last week about the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.

“The criticism on, and only on, Canada reflects the fact that relations between the two countries are quite terrible," Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, told The Globe and Mail’s Nathan Vanderklippe.

The protests in Hong Kong have also strained ties between China and Britain. Chinese authorities have reportedly arrested a Chinese citizen who was working in the British consulate in Hong Kong, something Britain says it is quite concerned about.

Relations between Canada and China became tense in December when Canadian police executed a request from the United States to arrest Chinese businesswoman Meng Wanzhou as she passed through the Vancouver airport. She is currently undergoing the extradition process. She is wanted in the U.S. on charges of bank and wire fraud related to a company’s dealings in Iran. Her lawyers argue in newly disclosed documents that officers of the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency unlawfully questioned her during her arrest on Dec. 1.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to give a foreign-policy speech in Montreal at 1 p.m. ET. We will see then if he has something to say about China in reply.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

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The House of Commons ethics committee meets at 1 p.m. ET in Ottawa today. The special summer meeting was called by the opposition members of the committee and the major order of business will be deciding whether or not to hear from Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion about the report he released last week that ruled the Prime Minister had broken ethics laws during the SNC-Lavalin affair. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a retired judge and law professor, said the fact that nine witnesses were barred by the government from talking to the commissioner shows that a truly independent inquiry is needed. That and a refusal to release all documents “are decisions that fall short of the required transparency and co-operation expected given the gravity of the matters raised by this situation,” Ms. Turpel-Lafond told The Globe.

Investment funds have been taking a hit from their holdings in SNC-Lavalin, because of the Quebec construction giant’s troubles with contracts and the political controversy around its criminal trial.

Environmental charities say they are worried that speaking about public-policy issues during the election could threaten their charitable status, but the Canada Revenue Agency says they should be fine as long as they aren’t supporting or opposing a particular party.

The parents of Jack Letts – the alleged terrorist with Canadian citizenship who is trapped in Syria and known as “Jihadi Jack” – say they are planning to come to Canada in the coming weeks and may try to move here permanently. John Letts and Sally Lane are British-Canadian dual citizens, as was their son Jack, until Britain revoked his citizenship of that country because of his alleged crimes.

The Green Party is sending mixed messages on whether its candidates are allowed to support a controversial Quebec law that bars public servants from wearing religious symbols. Party Leader Elizabeth May has condemned the law, but deputy leader Daniel Green told The Hill Times that Green candidates in the province are free to support the provincial law. Other party officials told the paper that because the issue is “divisive," they’d rather not talk about it.

Ontario parents can opt their children out of school sex-ed classes, according to a new curriculum unveiled by the provincial government today.

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The newly appointed integrity commissioner of Brampton, Ont., has publicly supported Mayor Patrick Brown in the past.

And more details have come out about this fall’s election debates. The official English debate on Oct. 7, featuring all the major party leaders, will be moderated by five journalists who represent media organizations involved in the production of the debate: Rosemary Barton from CBC News, Susan Delacourt from the Toronto Star, Dawna Friesen from Global News, Lisa LaFlamme from CTV News and Althia Raj from HuffPost Canada. The French debate will be held on Oct. 10. As well, Maclean’s and CityTV say they will host a debate on Sept. 12 that so far features the leaders of the Conservatives, NDP and Greens. Mr. Trudeau has not yet said if he will attend that debate.

Frank Ching (The Globe and Mail) on Chinese diplomacy: “The fact that Beijing wants to involve itself in finding peace between two other countries [India and Pakistan] dealing with governance problems may be something of a surprise, given the international attention currently being paid to the still-roiling pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. But on Aug. 16, the United Nations Security Council held a meeting on the Kashmir issue, the first in more than 50 years. Pakistan had requested the meeting, and it was backed by China, wielding its permanent Security Council membership.”

Hugh Stephens (The Globe and Mail) on Canadian diplomacy: “We shouldn’t seek to do more with Taiwan to strike back at China. We should do it because it is in Canada’s interests to engage more fully with Taiwan, which we can do within the existing confines of our one-China policy.”

Tom Mulcair (Toronto Sun) on the Green Party: “Because [Elizabeth May] has, for most of that time, been a one-woman show, she’s never developed the knack of sounding out others on what she proposes to say and it has, at times, gotten her into trouble. Her Green Party supporters love the fact that she says what’s on her mind, but for the average voter that doesn’t mean saying the first thing that pops into your mind.”

Daniel Drezner (Washington Post) on why the United States should buy Canada: “This is one of those rare win-win-win-win-win deals in international politics. The United Kingdom would win from the cash reserves the Queen of Canada would receive from relinquishing sovereignty – and, let’s face it, it’s going to need the money. Canada would win from unification with its southern neighbor, combining forces for an economic and Olympic powerhouse. No longer would Canadians have to truck with this ‘middle power’ nonsense, they’d be part of the hegemon, baby!”

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