After the sudden resignation from cabinet of Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s recently demoted justice minister and attorney general, a worrying question must be asked. Is Canada a society governed by the rule of law or not? Do political authorities call the shots or do the police, prosecutorial services and judges exercise their own independent judgment under the law about what cases to pursue and how?
The answer to these questions is suddenly a lot less clear than it was that fateful day when Meng Wenzhou stepped off the plane in Vancouver last December. Canadian authorities arrested Meng, CFO of China’s Huawei telecoms company, on an extradition warrant from the U.S. This led to a Chinese pressure campaign clearly designed to bully us into a political retreat from our position that this case was a pure example of the operation of the rule of law. The detention or resentencing of Canadians in China as well as other threatened actions appear to be in effect a punishment for Canada not being China, where the Communist Party is indisputably above the law.
Beijing does not accept that Canadian politicians cannot simply issue orders to any part of the state’s machinery, including the police, prosecution and judiciary. In China the Communist Party is above the law. In Canada, happily, no one is.
Or at least so many of us thought. The reason to question this assumption, and why we can be sure the Chinese are gleefully going to double down on their campaign against us, is because of the stories leaking out of Ottawa to the effect that officials at the very highest level of government, the Prime Minister’s Office, may have intervened in a proposed prosecution of a Canadian company, SNC-Lavalin.