An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
I REMAIN CONVINCED that our best shot at getting ourselves out of the hole we’ve dug in our relationship with China is at the grassroots level.
We got a little deeper into that hole Wednesday with a B.C. Supreme Court decision that extradition proceedings against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou can continue.
The decision will harden China’s discontent over the case, which has now stretched on for a year and a half.
If Canada was an authoritarian regime like China we wouldn’t be in this pickle. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could simply tell the court to cease and desist against Wanzhou, and let her go home.
Then China could release the two Michaels — Spavor and Kovrig — and we could begin the process of reconciliation between our two countries.
But that’s not the way it is, and convincing China to change its unique view of the world won’t be easy.
That’s why a different approach is needed, one that’s distinct from the politics of power.
Our trade with China is grounded in personal relationships. There are countless organizations dedicated to maintaining and expanding connections. China has energetically pursued these connections for economic as well as cultural reasons.
In Kamloops alone, there are many such connections, through Thompson Rivers University, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, Venture Kamloops, the school district, the City and community groups. The same goes for communities across the country.
Strong friendships have been forged. It’s time to use those friendships to knock some sense into our respective governments and make it clear China’s bullying won’t solve anything.
In the past, our excuse for not engaging on issues related to human rights, social justice or politics through these local-level groups has been that it would be rude to mix them with business and culture but China clearly makes no such distinctions.
So, when are all these community players going to stand up for their country?
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.