After breaking major international news yesterday with the release of The China Files, the topic came up today during question period in the House of Commons.
Conservative Party and Opposition leader Erin O'Toole was critical of the Trudeau government's actions, allowing the Canadian Armed Forces to work with the People's Liberation Army, saying:
Months after Canadian citizens were taken hostage by the Communist regime in China, we learned that the Liberals fought hard to keep a close relationship with China. In fact, the deputy prime minister fought for Canada to train China's military, on Canadian soil, against the direct advice of the chief of defence staff.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland didn't offer much of a response to the assertions from the Conservative leader about the accusations regarding the Chinese military, responding:
Today marks two years since Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arbitrarily detained in China. These years have been stolen from Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, from their families and loved ones. I know that all Canadians admire the integrity and strength of character these two men have shown, and I would also like to pay tribute to their families. The release of these two brave Canadians is an absolute priority for our government.
Shadow foreign affairs minister Michael Chong also criticized the Trudeau government for a “stunning lack of leadership” as Canada's diplomats and military were not aligned in their thinking. Chong questioned when the government would “develop a clear policy on China?”
Liberal Minister of Global Affairs Francois-Phillipe Champagne responded to Chong similarly to Freeland, by discussing how two years were stolen from the two Michaels' and their friends and family, adding that he hoped all Canadians were speaking with a singular voice in calling for the release.
James Bezan, the shadow minister for national defence, wondered why the Liberals weren't answering any questions relating to The China Files, saying that “yesterday top secret documents revealed that our government was irate when our chief of defence staff stopped Communist Chinese troops from receiving winter warfare on Canadian soil with our soldiers, even after acknowledging there were national security concerns raised by our Five Eyes partners.”
“Why is the prime minister bowing to the Chinese Communist regime and turning is back on our closest allies,” Bezan wondered.
Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan responded to the criticism by saying that the Liberal government would “always stand up for Canadians at home and abroad.”
“Let me be very clear,” Sajjan asserted. ”We do not train with the Chinese military... It was a previous government that signed a cooperation plan initiative in 2013.”