OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The dispute with China was front and centre as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday.
A release from the prime minister’s office says the two leaders reaffirmed the importance of respecting judicial independence when it comes to the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Vancouver last month.
Canadian authorities took Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou into custody at the request of American law enforcement, over fraud charges.
That arrest is widely seen as the reason two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, have been detained in China on allegations of endangering national security.
Trudeau also thanked the president for strong statements from the U.S. calling for the release of the two men.
Trump and Trudeau also discussed helping workers hit by the planned closure of GM plants on both sides of the border, as well as the next steps in addressing steel and aluminum tariffs, which remain in place despite Canada, the U.S. and Mexico reaching a new trade deal.
Their conversation comes as a group of Canadian politicians traveling in China pressed officials to free Kovrig and Spavor.
The delegation has met with officials twice so far, and on both occasions there were in depth discussions about the men’s arrests.
Conservative MP Michael Cooper, who is one of six politicians on the trip, says their message was clear.
“It was completely unacceptable, and is a serious impediment to the important bilateral relationship between Canada and China,” he says in a phone interview.
Cooper describes the efforts so far as constructive.
“The more that the message can be conveyed, the better,” he adds.
Cooper says the Chinese system is different and the delegation had to explain Canada’s extradition treaty and why there will be no political interference in the case.
“It’s not up to us,” he says. “This is a process that is completely independent of us.”
The delegation is in China until the weekend.