Question 1.
With respect to  Canada- US  relations and Canada-China  relations, and the  arrest  of the  Huawei executive, do you think that there was a better course of action  the government could have adopted so as to not antagonize China as much as it did, and still appear to somewhat support the US?  It seems we did not think this through very carefully, and the situation was not of our making, yet we are suffering the consequences. 
Today’s date (dd/mm) : 08/05 

Dr. Chapnick’s response
That’s a tough one. I suspect that we did actually think it through as carefully as we could, but I don’t think there were any good options. Some people have suggested that we should have tipped off Meng’s people that the American extradition request was coming. The problem with that approach is that it assumes that we could have kept our actions secret. In this day and age, everything gets out eventually, and if the Americans (under this president) had found out that we had gone behind their backs and undermined their effort, the consequences would likely have been much worse than just two kidnapped Canadians. Some also suggest that we should have refused to hold Meng because the crimes she is alleged to have committed are not considered criminal in Canada. And while this argument might ultimately end up being reasonable, it is not one that politicians can make. It is up to our courts to dismiss the request for extradition, and Meng’s lawyers have been dragging out the legal process. Skipping the courts in Canada gives other countries the green light to do the same, and we’ve already seen how that rarely ends well.

The real issue in this case is that the Americans never should have made the request of us in the first place unless they were prepared to do everything possible (which they clearly haven’t done) to get those Canadians freed. This situation would never have gotten this far with any other US administration. 


Question 2.
Given that the  Saudi attack on Yemen is causing horrible human suffering, given that  it is an illegal act by international standards and given that Yemen  was two states in recent past, what legitimate reason is there for Canada’s failure to  demand a ceasefire and promote a negotiated  settlement?  [note also that the official government has been described as a kleptocracy by Wikileaks]
Today’s date (dd/mm) : 08-05

Dr. Chapnick’s response
I think sometimes countries have to calculate the impact that their demands will have and adjust their behaviour accordingly. If Canada were to demand a ceasefire in Yemen (although I think the Saudis are now unilaterally shutting the engagement down temporarily), the Saudis would, at best, ignore us and, at worst, retaliate. Bottom line, our demand would have no impact on the people of Yemen. It follows that if we want to call for a ceasefire, it makes more sense to do so as part of a larger coalition that might actually be able to scare the Saudis into changing their behaviour. If there is no such coalition to be had, then we know that the international community is unwilling to do anything about this huminatarian catastrophe. And if that’s the case, there’s really nothing Canada can do (we can accept Yemeni refugees, I guess, and provide humanitarian assistance, but that’s about it). We could still demand a ceasefire to feel like we’ve done the right thing, but we would probably end up facing some pretty significant criticism for being all talk and no action, because there is no way that Canada would send troops to Yemen on their own to back up our words.


Question 3.
A  general question about  foreign policy .  Given that  Federal elections  in Canada use a first past the post system which generally results in governments  elected with a less than 50%  of the vote,  what input do other political parties have into foreign policy ?
Today’s date (dd/mm) : May 8

Dr. Chapnick’s response
The way that our system works means that, generally speaking, the opposition has as much input into foreign policy as the government wants them to have. Sometimes, for example in the early Mulroney years, that can be quite a bit. The Mulroney government launched a policy review that included the House of Commons and the Senate, which meant that members of the opposition had a real opportunity to inform the government’s thinking. In times of genuine crisis, the government might also reach out, but it does not have to. At other times, the opposition has no input whatsoever. That said, the Senate can at times compensate for a lack of opposition input.