Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Washington next week with a key aim: to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump it is in America’s own interests to stand up for the release of two Canadians jailed on security allegations in China.
Trudeau travels to Washington Wednesday evening with a to-do list that includes nailing down the timing for the ratification of the new USMCA deal, preventing U.S. tariffs on Canadian uranium exports, and easing U.S. barriers to Canadian softwood lumber, according to senior government officials.
But most urgent is the need to persuade Trump to personally take up with Chinese President Xi Jinping the fight for the release of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.
According to top officials who spoke to the Star, the prime minister is looking to have frank “positive” discussions with Trump about China’s threats to Canada, seen as retaliation for Canada’s co-operation with an American extradition request seeking the arrest of a Huawei executive who passed through Vancouver last December.
It was Trudeau who asked for the bilateral meeting with Trump ahead of G20 meetings in Japan in two weeks.
Trudeau privately believes Trump will understand arguments that Washington needs to stand up for its allies, especially small loyal ones like Canada because Beijing is looking to divide American-led alliances as it vies to undermine or supplant the U.S as a leading superpower.
In essence, Trudeau’s pitch to Trump is that he cannot allow China to believe America is so weak it is prepared to abandon its allies.