Following the death sentence of Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg in China on alleged involvement in drug trafficking, MLI Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley joined CTV's Todd Van Der Heyden to discuss the sentence and the escalating tensions between Canada and China.

According to Dr. Crowley, this sentencing is plainly political in nature. It represents part of the government of China's response to the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou for alleged sanctions violations.

"They are an odious, thuggish regime, that is now threatening Canadians with judicial execution because Canada will not kowtow to China on Ms. Meng's extradition to the United States," Dr. Crowley explains.

"I hope this helps Canadians to see the true nature of the Chinese regime."

With this sentencing, Dr. Crowley argues that it is past time to reflect more critically on Canada's long-term relationship with the Beijing regime.

"Successive governments in Canada have tried to cozy up to China for legitimate economic reasons, but I have to say, what this action by the Chinese government has done is to rip away the veil that obscures the true nature of the Chinese regime."

"This is shocking behaviour for any government."

So far, the Canadian government and Prime Minister Trudeau's response has been  "completely inadequate," says Crowley.

"The government of Canada and the Prime Minister does no favours for the Canadians involved by making the Chinese think that [Canadians are weak]."

That being said, Dr. Crowley believes that there are measured steps that Canada can take to send strong signals to China about how this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. Namely, Dr. Crowley suggests that it may be time to expel China's Ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye.

"It's time for Canada to [very seriously consider] expelling the Chinese ambassador. This is a man who has made public comments portraying Canada as a racist country... he represents a country that's threatening to judicially execute Canadians. We need to signal that that's totally unacceptable."

Other potential measures include leveling Magnitsky sanctions against Chinese human rights violators in the regime and pursuing a coordinated approach with other Western countries to put pressure on Beijing for it's increasingly bad behaviour.

"If China begins to see that it's bad behaviour towards Canada has got broader implications in its relations with the West, I think this will cause them to pause."

"It's time for us to make it very clear that the old policy of trying to suck up to China is history, and that Canada is going to join the Western countries that are increasingly alarmed at China's bad behaviour."

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