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China, Iran challenges top foreign policy priorities for Canada, says Champagne

Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne speaks to reporters at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says no one should construe the co-operation between Canada and China on the novel coronavirus outbreak as a sign that relations between them are returning to normal.

Champagne puts that warning in a major speech in Montreal on Friday that outlines his priorities on foreign policy in an increasingly volatile world.

According to a prepared text, his top priorities include winning the freedom of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor from their arbitrary imprisonment by China and pushing Iran to release the black boxes recovered from the Ukraine jetliner it shot down last month.

The vexing challenges posed by having to deal with Iran and China come at a time when Canada is campaigning for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Champagne cites the need to strengthen the international institutions that were born out of the Second World War as one the main drivers of Canada’s campaign to win a two-year seat on the powerful Security Council.

He says Canada wants to use its seat at that table to help address the challenges posed by rising populism and trade protectionism, the erosion of human rights, the “selective application” of international law and the shifting of political and economic power to Asia.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press