Trump’s big gift to Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou

Politics Insider for Dec. 14: Nobody wants to make a decision in the Trudeau government, Trump faces backlash over offer to intervene in Huawei case and Parliament’s big reno is missing two important things: a plan and a budget
Donald Trump
President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with newly elected governors in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s Liberals have a lot going for them in the 2019 election, writes Paul Wells. They also have one fundamental problem:

How could they lose? Oh, lots of ways. In 2015, Trudeau offered hope; now he carries baggage. The Liberal leader has made his share of unforced errors, from the bizarre vacation with the Aga Khan to the bizarre working trip in India. He’s abandoned campaign promises, as on electoral reform, and kept others at a cost that must leave him wishing he hadn’t bothered, as on Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s changes to the tax treatment of small businesses. And the grand bargain he offered on his way to 24 Sussex Drive—real action on climate change as the price of real progress on oil exports—seems broken at both ends.

Sorry, did I say 24 Sussex? Of course, Trudeau has never lived in that decrepit palace as an adult and is unable to make the most basic decisions about how or whether to fix it. “Better is always possible” has become “Can I get back to you after you re-elect me?” (Maclean’s)

Beijing couldn’t care less what the people of Canada think about the arbitrary and retaliatory arrests of Canadians living there, after police in Vancouver arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. The state is putting on a theatrical performance for its own people, and China’s aggressive nationalism demands that Beijing extract diplomatic blood:

The people that China needs to keep happy can understand the concept of rule of law on an intellectual level, but emotionally, it is likely a more alien concept. For thousands of years, China’s judges and prosecutors were the same person: the county magistrate, an arm of the government. Sometimes the emperor even directly participated in the process by approving or denying executions. “The rule of man, rather than the rule of law, is very deeply rooted in the Chinese legal culture,” according to the Global Media in China journal.

It would not be too much of a stretch to conclude the average Chinese person will assume the arrest of Huawei’s Meng was at least in part politically motivated and could thus be resolved though political means. (Maclean’s)

Donald Trump only drove home that point to the Chinese with his forehead-slapping offer to intervene in Meng’s case if Beijing would do a trade deal with him. Trump is facing pushback. The U.S. assistant attorney general for security told a U.S. Senate committee the Justice department “is not a tool of trade.” Meanwhile, legal experts say Trump may have done Meng a huge favour: “Meng’s lawyers could use Trump’s remarks as evidence to argue that the prosecution against her is politicized, and they could ask for a stay of proceedings on the basis of abuse of process (via the extradition judge) or ask the Minister not to surrender her.” (Global News, Bloomberg)

Renovation realities: The House of Commons adjourned for the last time in 2018. When MPs return next year they’ll take their seats in Parliament’s temporary digs in the West Block. Given the massive renovation project about to be undertaken on the Centre Block one might think the Federal Public Service would have a plan for how long the project will take and how much it will cost. One would be wrong: “(The figure of) 10 years has been used in the media, but there’s never really been a baseline schedule or budget established for the Centre Block project,” a Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) official said Thursday. As for whether cost estimates had been done, the official replied: “At this point, no.” (iPolitics)

If we were you, we’d want to be us too: Patrick Brazeau, Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy got together to flaunt their continued Senatorships in a tweet Wednesday night. With the three Senators posing together, Brazeau tweeted “Like it or not, we survived the unjustified bs!” (National Post)