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Special Canada-China committee to hold first meeting in Ottawa

Last Updated Jan 20, 2020 at 6:02 am EDT

This Dec. 5, 2017, photo shows flags of Canada and China prior to a meeting of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. China's embassy in Ottawa is taking a swing at the Trudeau Liberals over fresh comments on the source of the diplomatic difficulties between the two countries. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Fred Dufour, Pool Photo

A new special parliamentary committee created to examine Canada’s fraught relationship with China will hold its first meeting today in Ottawa.

The committee’s creation was the result of a Conservative motion passed in December, thanks to support from other opposition parties in the minority Parliament.

The motion authorizes the committee to order the prime minister, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Canada’s ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, to appear as witnesses “from time to time as the committee sees fit.”

Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole said in December the committee will work to address Canada’s current diplomatic dispute with China and help develop a specialized approach to easing the bilateral challenges between the two nations.

Thirteen months ago, China detained two Canadian citizens, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who remain imprisoned without access to lawyers or their families — a move widely seen as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the United States, which wants to extradite her on fraud charges related to U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The all-party Canada-China relations committee will convene Monday afternoon and elect a chair.