The motion comes days after POLITICO reported that Canadian officials told HFX organizers that the government would withdraw support for the event if Tsai were awarded the John McCain Prize. Canada is one of the main sponsors of the forum.
Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan has since denied that the Trudeau government threatened to withhold funding from the organizers’ plan for the prize.
Sajjan, however, declined to respond on Monday when pressed by conservative lawmakers to say whether he would endorse Tsai for such a price. The minister said in a committee hearing that HFX is independent and free to make its own pricing decisions.
He was also asked if he would commit to continuing to fund the forum, regardless of which HFX chooses to receive his awards. Sajjan said he will review the funding request as he does every year.
For several days now, the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also been confronted with questions about history in the House of Commons.
Earlier Wednesday, Chong urged Trudeau during question period to commit to maintaining HFX funding, even though organizers awarded Tsai the John McCain Prize.
Trudeau responded, “The government has supported and funded the Halifax Security Forum throughout our tenure, and the Minister has participated every year and will continue to do so.
The prime minister went on to say that he had always supported Taiwan’s “meaningful participation in multilateral international forums.”
“Canada continues to have a strong and growing business and people-to-people relationship with Taiwan,” he said.
Trudeau ignored the preamble to Chong’s question in which he referred to the details of POLITICO’s story. “The government’s attempt to silence those who criticize China is shameful and it plays right into China’s desire to silence its critics abroad,” Chong said.
Ottawa has avoided provoking Beijing after bilateral ties collapsed more than two years ago. In December 2018, Canadian authorities arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on behalf of the United States.
Beijing, irritated by his arrest, demanded his release. Meng, accused of violating US international sanctions against Iran, has denied any wrongdoing and is fighting extradition.
In apparent retaliation, China arrested two Canadians – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – days later and has since charged them with espionage.
Several sources familiar with the matter told POLITICO that the organizers of HFX had decided to award the 2020 prize to Tsai. Forum board member Cindy McCain endorsed the decision to honor Tsai with the award named after her late husband.
When Canadian officials learned of the plans, they made it clear if organizers hand over the award to Tsai, the Canadian government will withdraw its support – and funding – from HFX.
During Monday’s committee hearing, a testy exchange suggested that Sajjan has concerns about the organization behind the forum.
The back-and-forth began when Tory MP John Williamson asked Sajjan what he thought of HFX.
“I want to make sure you’re talking about the Halifax International Security Forum, not their office they have in Washington. Is that correct? “Sajjan asked before getting an affirmative response from Williamson.” Well, so just the event itself, not the office and not the employees who are former Conservative employees who actually work in it. office? Is that correct? “