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Chinese interference | Mélanie Joly “would never hesitate” to expel a diplomat in violation of the rules



(Ottawa) The government has not expelled any Chinese diplomat since 2018, but will not hesitate to do so if it interferes, slice the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly. Ottawa also wants to “prevent rather than cure”, and a close friend of the Chinese regime learned this the hard way last fall, after his entry visa had been refused to him, she illustrates.

The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs heard for the second time in nearly three months from the minister and his colleague Dominic LeBlanc.

From the first minutes of the session, the tension was palpable.

Conservative MP Luc Berthold was repeatedly called to order because he interrupted his interlocutor.

The elected official wanted to know how many Chinese diplomats had been expelled from Canada in 2018, then in 2019, and so on.

In response to these direct questions, Minister Joly wanted to provide detailed answers, which led to some tussles at the committee table.

We could hear him affirm, in the midst of the brouhaha, that if representatives of China contravened the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, “never [elle] won’t hesitate[t] to show them the door.

But since we “can prevent rather than cure”, we can also prohibit them from setting foot in Canada upstream, she argued.

This is what was done last fall, illustrated the minister, confirming information published in the Globe and Mail.

There is a heightened “level of vigilance” about this at Global Affairs Canada, she explained.

To a more friendly interlocutor, the Liberal Ruby Sahota, Joly later stressed that expelling foreign diplomats was not something to be taken lightly, as such decisions attract retaliation.

And Canada cannot afford to lose its eyes and ears in China, because “you have to understand how they work”.

Joly-Cooper clash

The minister reiterated that she had a discussion with her Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, about Chinese interference on the sidelines of the G20 summit in India a few days ago.

“I was extremely clear. I looked him straight in the eye and told him that we will never tolerate any form of interference,” she said.

Conservative MP Michael Cooper later scoffed.

“You have spoken firmly with your counterpart in Beijing […]. You even looked him straight in the eye… I’m sure he was very intimidated,” he said.

His mockery was denounced by members of the committee.

“It’s shameful,” said New Democrat Rachel Blaney, who later returned to the incident.

An apology was demanded by Liberal MPs, and before adjourning, Speaker Bardish Chagger expressed her disgust in rather unparliamentary terms.

“There are a lot of things around here that make me vomit in my mouth,” she blurted out.

The obstruction continues

Before ministers Mélanie Joly and Dominic LeBlanc entered the scene, the Liberals continued to obstruct in the hope of avoiding an appearance by Katie Telford, the chief of staff of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

They each praised the announcement of the creation of an independent special rapporteur and questioned the advisability of launching an independent public inquiry into foreign interference.

Among them, Ruby Sahota appealed to the fiscal fiber of the Conservatives as an argument against holding an inquiry.

She cited the one that was done in 2022 on the Nova Scotia massacre, which cost $25.6 million.

“I can hardly imagine how much this would cost taxpayers,” she said.

A first open investigation

As ordered by the Prime Minister on Monday, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians launched an investigation “to assess the state of foreign interference”.

The group of parliamentarians, whose members hold the highest level of security clearance and meet behind closed doors, will examine the situation in the country since 2018.

In the House on Thursday, the opposition parties continued to hammer that this was not enough, all the more so in light of the revelations about the existence of two alleged Chinese police stations in Quebec.

It’s a drop that makes an already full vase overflow, worries Alexandre Boulerice, deputy leader of the NPD.

“It brings water to the mill on the fact that it takes an independent public inquiry. Every day we learn. Is there anything else? “, he said in scrum in parliament.

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