Jean Chretien, the most successful Liberal Prime Minister in memory, had some advice for Justin Trudeau, the weakest Liberal Prime Minister in memory.
It was advice on how to deal with China, which has been holding two Canadians hostage for the better part of a year.
Chretien's advice was simple: Just pay the ransom:
Chrétien proposes cancelling Meng’s extradition case to unfreeze relations with China
(Just a reminder: Meng Wanzhou is a senior executive of the massive Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, and she also happens to be the daughter of the company’s founder. She was arrested in Vancouver, at the request of the United States, for various financial crimes. Meng is fighting that extradition, and is out on bail but can’t leave Vancouver.)
The proposal – which has not been formally presented to the Trudeau government – would meet Chinese President Xi Jinping’s demand that Ms. Meng be freed to return home before Beijing would reconsider reprisals it has taken against Canada.
It’s a total abject surrender: renounce everything the Canadian government has said about the rule of law — and all that has to happen before China releases the hostages or undoes its trade bans on canola and other imports?
Wow, is that the advice of a man who ran the Canadian government for a decade? Is that really how Chretien himself operated in the countless large and small negotiations and disagreements and compromises that a prime minister faces?
Of course not. Chretien is in fact a fairly shrewd negotiator.
But you have to understand, that he is a negotiator for the other side:
Aside from the ethics of that, do you think that Jean Chretien didn’t take any steps, didn’t have any conversations, in advance of stepping down as prime minister, that he was going to lobby China? Or do you think there’s, oh, a teeny-tiny chance that, while he was still our prime minister, making decision on security and diplomacy and trade, that he was already setting up his post-employment gig with them?
So imagine asking Chretien’s opinion for what to do about China, and treating him as some sort of credible elder statesman — instead of a total shill that he is.
The one guy who could help — the one guy whose phone calls get answered — is Donald Trump. Trudeau mocks him at every turn, so Trump doesn’t waste his time on our man-child president.
What would Stephen Harper do if he were prime minister now? Well, I don’t know — and neither does Trudeau, because he hates him too. Which is a shame. Because I bet Harper would put aside any partisanship and give some real advice. He might even try to go over there and help. And if you think that’s a bad idea, well, what’s your alternative?
TONIGHT I'll tell you a few things I think Trudeau should do. There are lots of options, in respect to trade and tariffs, visas — for example, there are something like 100,000 Chinese nationals in our universities, so maybe decline to renew their student visas?
Because right now, what Trudeau is doing isn’t working. And what Chretien proposes doing is China’s plan, not ours.
NEXT: To talk more about this, I'm joined by one of our favourite guests, lawyer Manny Montenegrino.
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