Jean Chrétien is floating the idea of having Canada's Justice Minister exercise his legal authority to stop the U.S. extradition of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou as the means to normalize diplomatic relations with China, sources say.
The former Liberal prime ministers, who last week offered to serve Canada
Professor Wenran Jiang's proposal was first raised by the University of British Columbia. Mr. Chrétien's former senior adviser Edward Goldenberg, an Ottawa lawyer, has sought input on it from other China experts, sources say.
The sources who spoke to the Globe were granted anonymity so they could speak about private conversations.
Xi Jinping's demand that Ms. Meng be freed to return home before Beijing would reconsider reprisals it has taken against Canada.
Trudeau to meet Trump at White House to talk trade, Canadians detained in China
Sources say Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Goldenberg have pointed out in discussions that the law states the Justice Minister can end an extradition process. The Extradition Act says the minister "with the extradition request and the court shall discharge the judicial interim release or detention."
Bruce Hartley, a spokesman for Mr. Chrétien, did not immediately respond to request for comment. Mr. Goldenberg declined to comment.
The government may be reviewing to end the standoff with China.
On Monday, Mr. Trudeau was asked whether he was prepared to enlist Mr. Chrétien.
"Mr. Trudeau told reporters." He was happy to sit down with him just a few weeks ago to talk at length about the situation with China and get his advice. "
Beijing could welcome Mr. Chrétien as a special envoy, with a spokesman saying the Trudeau government has not indicated whether it would embrace this proposal.
In December, Canada arrested Ms. Meng, the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, founder of the Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. telecommunications company, at the request of U.S. authorities on allegations of fraud relating to sanctions against Iran. Legal experts have been able to drag on for years if to Canadian court rules in favor of extradition and Ms. Meng appeals.
Soon after, China arrested Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig on allegations they had violated national security, and imposed trade restrictions on Canadian canola, pork, beef and other farm products. Since December, two other Canadians in China have been sentenced to death.
The sources said that Mr. Chrétien, who was the architect of the China-Canada relationship after the rupture caused by the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989
Canada and China aren't talking at senior levels. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has asked her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, to hold high-level talks, but has refused to take her phone calls. CBC News reported on Wednesday that Beijing ignored by Mr. Trudeau earlier this year to set up a conversation with China's Premier in an attempt to intervene on behalf of Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig.
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney and the Conservative Party have called on Mr. Trudeau to name Mr. Chrétien as a special envoy, citing his past ties to Chinese leaders.
Mr. Chrétien has said privately that the United States played a trick on Canada by forcing Ottawa to arrest Ms. Meng, and called the extradition request an unacceptable move. He also privately said he does not think Canada should pay the price for the Meng arrest.
Prof. Jiang, an expert on China who argued with Mr. Goldenberg was the extensor of the law, said Chinese authorities have carefully read the extradition law and know it is possible.
Prof. Jiang said if Mr. Chrétien is sent to China, the Chinese would expect nothing less than Ms. Meng's releases.
"From the Chinese viewpoint, there is really no room to negotiate. There is no negotiation. They view Meng Wanzhou's arrest as hostage-taking on behalf of the Americans, "he said. "On the Canadian side, we want to stop the bleeding right way, we want the two Michaels feeling home and we want trade sanctions and related punishment to stop."
Prof. Jiang said he recently traveled to China, including to Huawei's headquarters in Shenzhen, with UBC colleague Paul Evans. Mr. Chrétien, who is respected by Chinese leaders, who was prepared to act as envoy, but who has not improved diplomatic relations, he said.
"They say:‘ What is the package? You can send anyone you want, but what is the deal? "" Prof. Jiang said.
However, Canada's former ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, said it would be a mixture for the government endorsement proposal, particularly since Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Freeland have said the courts should deal with the issue.
"The opposition would jump on the government," he said.
The former diplomat said that what would be even more worrisome would be Donald Trump's reaction, even though the U.S. President has speculated that Ms. Meng could be a pawn in China-U.S. trade talks.
Mr. Saint-Jacques said there are solid political reasons he does not believe the Prime Minister would seriously consider sending Mr. Chrétien.
Mr. Chrétien has been sent to the glory and Ms. Meng is free, well, it would give the impression that the Prime Minister is inexperienced and neophyte – and good old Mr. Chrétien is a reliable fixer, ”he said.