Dealing With Bullies

You learn it on the playground as a kid. The only way to stop bullies is to stand up to them. If you don’t they will continue to pick on you.

Which is why many Canadians are wondering why the federal government hesitated to expel the Chinese diplomat accused of threatening the family of a Member of Parliament. The Liberals wanted to consider the ramifications and what the Chinese retaliation would be.

The most likely retaliation, which indeed did happen, was the expulsion of a Canadian diplomat from China. There also could be a roundup of Canadian citizens in China and the seizure of any assets owned by Canadians. There will almost certainly be trade sanctions. We have seen disproportionate Chinese responses in the past.

But so what? Does the fact a bully is strong mean you allow them to keep bullying you?

Think back to the playground. Bullies were frequently big and strong . If you got into a fight with one you stood a good chance of getting hurt. But sometimes your self esteem was more important than your skin, so you fought.

Canada’s Liberal government has apparently ignored warnings about Chinese interference in Canadian elections. It turned a blind eye when the Beijing government opened police stations on Canadian soil to keep tabs on Chinese citizens and those with Chinese heritage. When a Member of Parliament’s family was threatened, the response should have been swift. Instead the government had to consider what should be done.

If this individual was not protected by diplomatic immunity he could have faced criminal charges. In Canadian law threatening others is not acceptable. Since criminal charges are not possible this case, declaring the persona non grata and kicking them out of the country was the only viable option. Stand up to the bully.

If China retaliates, as many people expect, stand up to that too. Sometimes doing the right things comes with a high cost. People of integrity understand that

Do the Prime Minister and his cabinet understand? I hope so. It shouldn’t have taken a week, but they did the right thing. If in the end their decision was becasue of the domestic political backlash against their inaction that is sad, but at least they sent a signal that Canada cannot be bullied.

Of course there is still the matter of those police stations and election meddling. Maybe having discovered that the world doesn’t end when you stand up to a bully they might address those issues too.



  1. China had a chance to recall its diplomat when the story broke. They did not…that says something.

    1. They wanted to see if the Canadian government had any intestinal fortitude.

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