Raymond J. de Souza: The Canadian consensus on China is breaking down

Mulroney is against the prisoner swap. In an interview with the Globe and Mail this past week, Mulroney inveighed against the prisoner swap and called for “an immediate and urgent rethink” of Canada’s relationship with the aggressive and lawless Chinese regime. For good measure, Mulroney also came out against permitting Huawei to participate in Canada’s 5G mobile network.

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André Desmarais and his late father, Paul, were influential for nearly 50 years in advocating for doing business with China and soft-pedalling criticism of its human rights abuses. The approach coincided with the business interests of the Desmarais family’s company.

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For Canada, the hostage-taking of the two Michaels was a particular provocation that could not be ignored. But independent of their kidnapping, the world is shifting on China. After Wuhan, the idea that the Chinese regime is a destabilizing force in global affairs is no longer possible to deny.

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, which allows the American government to freeze the assets of those responsible for the concentration camps where more than a million Uyghur Muslims are interned in the Xinjiang region of China. Investigative reports this past week showed that Chinese officials were subjecting Uyghur women to forced abortions and sterilizations, to reduce their population.

A consensus is powerful in part because of inertia. If no one dissents, it rolls on and on and on. Canada’s China consensus had a very long roll. But the inertia is no more. Mulroney has seen to that. And he will not be the last to dissent.