Tuesday, September 27, 2016

They all but kiss...what, matching suits now!

Extradition to China should be non-starter

Postmedia Network
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau(L) and China Premier Li Keqiang embrace on September 23, 2016 at a conference of the Canada China Business Council in Montreal, Quebec. (Clément SABOURINCLEMENT SABOURIN/AFP/Getty Images)  
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau(L) and China Premier Li Keqiang embrace on September 23, 2016 at a conference of the Canada China Business Council in Montreal, Quebec. (Clément SABOURINCLEMENT SABOURIN/AFP/Getty Images)  
China's premier, visiting Canada last week as part of an extraordinary warming of relations, defended his country's use of the death penalty. "It is consistent with our national condition," Li Keqiang told reporters. "If we abolish the death penalty, innocent people will lose their lives."
We oppose the death penalty, while acknowledging its supporters could mount an argument of this sort in a country with sturdy rule of law and respect for other human rights. But that's not China. China is the world's single most prolific executioner, although that's only an educated guess because the true numbers are a closely guarded secret. Chinese laws allow for capital punishment for dozens of crimes, including corruption and bribery, in addition to more standard offences such as murder.
Such wide use of the death penalty is but one of many reasons Canada should not consider an extradition treaty with Beijing. Trade, academic exchanges -- even, to some degree, security talks -- may be an inevitable part of the diplomatic agenda, but an extradition pact is beyond the pale.
The spectre of a future such treaty arises in the wake of China's recent release of Canadian Kevin Garratt, reportedly convicted of spying, after being imprisoned since 2014. His freedom came after Trudeau visited China recently, and just before Premier Li showed up here. It's known that China would like to get back a number of nationals who have fled abroad, including to Canada: its "Operation Fox Hunt" is thought to include harassing so-called economic fugitives and political dissidents and their families outside its borders. The Middle Kingdom would like to bring these troublemakers home.
Canada has extradition treaties with some countries that do have the death penalty, such as the United States. But we do not extradite to them without a guarantee that execution will not be used. Because the U.S. has a functioning, transparent and accountable judicial system, this works.
But China? According to Amnesty International, it tortures prisoners; they are denied medical help; it's accused of harvesting organs from political prisoners; it holds secret trials; it persecutes minorities. And its system isn't transparent.
"We recognize Canada and China have different systems of law and order and different approaches," Trudeau said, with alarming understatement. These are not differences, but large chasms of principle.
Discussing an extradition treaty with a country that flouts Canadian values would debase those principles. If "Canada is back" on the world stage in a meaningful way, it will take this idea no further.