The system is working, in ways that aren't super-inspiring
Here’s Michael Cooper, Conservative MP for St. Albert — Edmonton, indulging in a little theatre a week ago at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee. It really is worth watching the video:
And here’s Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, indulging in a little theatre Thursday in the Commons lobby:
One suspects a causal link. How many PRC diplomats have been expelled from Canada in 2019, Cooper asked. “None that I’m aware of,” David Morrison, the deputy minister of global affairs, replied. Cooper repeated the exercise for 2020, 2021 and 2022, which gave him a chance to say “Zero! Zero! Zero! Zero!” at the end.
Trudeau popped out of the elevator this morning to answer — sorry, to talk around — a question about a Chinese diplomat who was apparently denied a visa last autumn.
The visa was denied last autumn, but news of it came from the Globe and Mail last night. The Globe’s reporters cite a federal government source, which is entertaining because until last night, the federal government was angry about leaks to Globe reporters.
Also entertaining: Compare the way Cooper wrapped up his exchange with Morrison with the way Trudeau sums up the news about the visa denial.
Cooper: “This is clearly a government that doesn’t take foreign interference by Beijing seriously.”
Trudeau: “This is an issue we’ve always taken seriously.”
The theatrics from PROC (the short form everyone uses for the committee) can be a bit much, but it’s good to see an opposition MP writing the PM’s talking points. I actually mean today’s subhead mostly seriously: when the despised mainstream media and the despised opposition tag-team a despised government, the result is a rapid and long overdue increase in the amount of transparency about Canada-Chinese relations. As The Hold Steady remind us: “It doesn’t have to be pure/ It doesn’t have to be perfect/ Just sort of has to be worth it.”
This ungraceful extraction of useful new information continued Thursday, when Mélanie Joly and Dominic LeBlanc testified at the committee.