Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beijing pulled a fast one on Baird

Fools or cynics, the Conservatives are insulting our intelligence as they try to rationalize their volte-face on China

Commenting on the deportation case of fugitive Lai Changxing (賴昌星) while in Beijing on Monday, Canadian foreign affairs minister John Baird said he had “no reason” to distrust the assurances of the Chinese government when it said that capital punishment will no longer be used for white-collar crimes.

Lai, who fled to Canada and has been wanted since 1999 on allegations by China that he masterminded a $10-billon (U.S.) smuggling ring, was suddenly ordered deported by Canadian authorities last week — coincidentally, mere days before Baird was to embark on his visit to China — until a court order on Wednesday stalled those efforts. He could now be deported as early as next week.

One of the crucial elements in Lai’s 12-year court case in Canada was whether he would face torture or execution if he were returned to China, wavering that is seen as having “damaged” relations between Ottawa and Beijing. The assurances given Baird now appear to have assuaged fears that his deportation could give rise to a Chinese replay of the shameful Maher Arar case.

My op-ed, published today in the Ottawa Citizen under the title “Reason to Distrust,” continues here.

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