The election was called on the day that Kabul fell and has overlapped with another grim foreign policy milestone: 100o days since two Canadians, Michael Korvig, and Michael Spavor were detained by the Chinese Communist Party in an act of 'hostage diplomacy' widely believed to be in retaliation for the detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wangzhou over alleged violations of American sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran.
According to CTV News, several hundred people took to the streets in Ottawa, wearing white shirts printed with the slogan #bringthemhome. Vina Nadjibulla, Michael Kovrig's former wife said she "had most recently had news about Michael thanks to a consular visit 'roughly three weeks ago'.
"He's doing everything possible to stay healthy both mentally and physically. She claims that Kovrig referred to the experience as a 'boot camp in forbearance,'" she added.
This comes amid Chinese state media publishing claims that Michael Spavor "took photos" of Chinese military equipment and sent it to Michael Korvig, claims that have since been amplified by the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa. Spavor was convicted of espionage by a Chinese court and sentenced to 11 years in prison, while Korvig continues to languish in a Chinese jail cell, his fate uncertain.
In a statement to CTV News, the Chinese Ambassador to Canada said that "the marchers and 'others' are harming relations between the two countries by hyping the milestone with 'unwarranted accusations' against his government."
In an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was asked about the Liberal government's handling of the 'Two Michaels' case: "When it comes to Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig, this has been a very difficult matter and I feel like Canada is doing the best we can," Singh said. “I think we have just got to continue to apply whatever pressures we can, using our diplomatic tools and working with international allies to apply that pressure on China to secure the release of these Canadians,” he added.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was also pressed on his governments handling of the case by Laura Stone of The Globe and Mail: "We've been significantly more successful than the previous government was, because we use all the tools at our disposal, usually not shouting in the public square. We usually lean in and put pressure on those countries in various ways." he answered. Trudeau claims that his government "has put forward all the different range of tools" and added that "no country wants to see any of their citizens arbitrarily detained."
Erin O'Toole and the Conservatives have been highly critical of the Liberal governments handling of the Canada-China relationship, and have called for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.