Canada: Parliament’s special committee to examine ties with China

The House of Commons will appoint the special committee with “the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-People’s Republic of China relationship, including but not limited to diplomatic, consular, legal, security and economic relations”
A Canadian flag flies in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (REUTERS)
A Canadian flag flies in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (REUTERS)
Published on May 18, 2022 02:53 PM IST
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ByAnirudh Bhattacharyya I Edited by Amit Chanda

TORONTO: Canada’s House of Commons has voted to reappoint a special committee to examine the country’s relationship with China, despite opposition from the ruling Liberal Party.

The motion in this regard was moved by the opposition Conservative Party and received support from the other major groups - the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Bloc Quebecois. In a vote late on Monday, the House adopted the motion, with 168 in favour to 155 against, all from the Liberal caucus.

This also marked the first time that the NDP broke ranks with the Liberals even since they entered into a “confidence agreement” this March, under which they are to coordinate in the House and in committees, and is mean to ensure that the government to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau completes its full term, which is till 2025.

According to the motion, the House will appoint the special committee with “the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-People’s Republic of China relationship, including but not limited to diplomatic, consular, legal, security and economic relations”.

It will comprise 12-members, six each from the ruling party and opposition ranks.

In a statement, the two MPs who moved the motion, Conservatives Michael Chong and Pierre Paul-Hus said that “Beijing’s communist government continues to threaten and target pro-democracy and human rights advocates in the Chinese community here in Canada. Beijing’s communist leadership also poses a threat to Canada’s national interest and security, as well as to our values.”

They added that its “establishment takes place as we await the long-promised and overdue Indo-Pacific strategy from the Trudeau government.”

The committee was first formed in 2019, but had yet to be reappointed after the September 2021 national elections.

The ruling faced embarrassment in the last parliament, as the then president of the Public Health Agency of Canada Iain Stewart was reprimanded by the House of Commons speaker Anthony Rota in June 2021 for refusing to hand over documents relating to the reasons behind the firing of two Chinese-origin scientists from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg in January 2020.

Xiangguo Qiu, and her husband, Keding Cheng, were earlier escorted out of the laboratory in the spring of 2019, with reports swirling she supervised shipment of Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is now synonymous with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The effort to get those documents will be revived by special committee and the Trudeau government is expected to continue opposing their disclosure on national security grounds.

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