OTTAWA, Canada—In the wake of the death of two Canadian soldiers last week, the spokesman of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office confirmed on Monday Harper has cancelled his upcoming trip to China.
Instead of attending an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit Nov.10-11 in Beijing, Harper will join veterans and Canadian citizens at the national war memorial in Ottawa for Remembrance Day.
Last Wednesday, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot while guarding the memorial by a man who Canadian police says had “ideological and political motives.”
Two days before that, warrant officer Patrice Vincent died after he and another officer were hit by a car in Quebec by a man police says had “terrorist ideologies.”
Harper labeled these both as “terrorist attacks.”
But there may be more reason than Remembrance Day for Harper to stay home.
A Canadian couple, Kevin and Julia Garratt, were detained in Dandong, China in early August for “theft of state secrets” and have been detained ever since.
Back in September, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported the Canadian government threatened to cancel a high-profile meeting with the Chinese leadership if it did not release the Garratts.
Minister of Immigration and a member in Harper’s cabinet, Chris Alexander, expressed his frustration in dealing with China over the Garratt case on Saturday at a meeting with religious groups who have been persecuted in China.
“I don’t think there is any case that illustrates our frustration in speaking about these issues to China as clearly as the Garratt case,” he said. “Their story, as well as your stories will continue to galvanize our policy.”
The detention of the Garratts happened within one week after the Canadian government publicly accused the Chinese regime of hacking into the computers of National Research Council in Ottawa, which the Chinese regime denied.
There is speculation that the Garratt’s detention is a retaliation for that public accusation.