Parliament passes Conservative motion to create committee on Canada-China relations

Conservatives on Tuesday continued their push for the federal Liberal government to take a harder line in dealing with China.

Members of Parliament voted 171 to 148 in favour of a creating a special committee to re-evaluate virtually all aspects of Canada’s relationship with China.

The motion, which was presented earlier in the day by the Official Opposition, initially wasn’t expected to pass and is the latest push from the Tories to urge the government to take a firmer stance.

All opposition MPs from the Bloc Quebecois, NDP and the Greens supported the motion to establish the committee. Former Liberal cabinet member and lone independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould also voted in favour of the committee, which would consist of six Liberals, four Conservatives, one Bloc Quebecois and one New Democrat.

The combined opposition members would outnumber government members as a Liberal would have to chair the committee, and would only be allowed to vote in the event of a tie.

The committee would also be authorized to order Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Phillipe Champagne and Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China, to appear as witnesses “from time to time” as it sees fit.

It comes on the one-year anniversary of China’s detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, which many have said appeared to be in retaliation for Canada honouring its extradition treaty with the U.S. in arresting Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters earlier Tuesday that both Kovrig and Spavor’s cases were transferred to prosecutors, hinting at an upcoming trial for the two.

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