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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo: Reuters

Parliament to scrutinise Canada-China relations in defeat for Trudeau

  • Canadian lawmakers deliver on threat to examine ‘soft’ approach to Beijing with vote to form special committee
  • Conservative opposition accuses prime minister of failing to stand up for Canada’s interests

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suffered his first parliamentary defeat since re-election on Tuesday with legislators approving the creation of a special committee to examine the country’s frosty relations with China.

Trudeau’s Liberals lost their parliamentary majority in an October election. He must now rely on opposition legislators to govern.

Canada-China ties turned icy a year ago after Vancouver police detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a US arrest warrant. Soon afterwards, China detained two Canadian citizens who now face state security charges, and it also blocked imports of canola seed from Canada.

The right-leaning Conservative Party, which accuses Trudeau of being too soft with China, proposed setting up the 12-person committee, which will conduct hearings to review all aspects of Canada’s relations with China. It is due to meet for the first time on January 20.

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“This committee will help shed light on Justin Trudeau’s failures to stand up for Canadian interests with respect to Beijing,” Conservative foreign affairs spokesman Erin O’Toole said in a statement.

Trudeau has stressed the need to avoid escalating the dispute with China, while the Liberals have said existing committees already deal with the China relationship.

The Conservatives want Trudeau to scrap a C$250 million (US$188 million) investment in the Chinese-owned Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. They also oppose the use of Huawei technology for construction of an ultra-fast 5G wireless network.

Legislators voted by 171 to 148 to create the committee. Trudeau’s office was not immediately available for comment.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: MPs to review China ties in loss for PM