Disqualifying: Charest’s Attack On Poilievre Is An Attempt To Divert Attention From His Work For Huawei

Canadians are likely to find Charest’s time with Huawei to be ‘disqualifying’.

One of the most annoying trends in Canadian politics is when a politician attacks somebody and then immediately claims to oppose ‘attack politics.’

The latest example of this is Jean Charest.

Speaking to CTV, Charest claimed that Pierre Poilievre’s support for the Freedom Convoy was ‘disqualifying’:

“I have a competitor by the name of Mr. Poilievre who supported, as you know, the blockade,” Charest told CTV Morning Live on Friday. “And if you want to be a leader in this country and a legislator, you can’t make laws and break laws.

“Laws are not a buffet table, if you’re a legislator, from which you choose what you want. Because what you’re really saying to people is I’m above the law,” Charest added in a separate interview with CTV News.

“You can’t be a leader of a party and the chief legislator of the country, as prime minister, and support people breaking the laws. That disqualifies you.”

Notably, Charest left out the fact that Poilievre expressed support for the legal protests, and spoke out against illegal blockades. Further, Poilievre said early on anyone who violated the law should be held accountable as an individual.

Charest ignored that nuance, since it would have undermined his attack.

Hypocritically, Charest then claimed that he was against ‘American-style politics’:

“Either we are going to go down the route of American-style politics, of wedge politics, and attacks, that we are actually seeing in this leadership race,” he said. “Or we’re going to be a Canadian Conservative party, which is what I believe in.

“We are more divided now as a country than we’ve been since the 1980s, and it explains why I’m running. Because it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Charest attacks his opponent, claims his opponent is disqualified, leaves out important context and nuance, and then claims to be against attack politics.

As people noted on Twitter, Charest’s hypocritical attack shows how out of touch he is:

“These career politicians are so out of touch with the ordinary person, it’s actually astounding. Good luck dragging blue collar workers through the mud. We’ll see how that works out for you.”

“Actually, working on behalf of a genocidal foreign adversary disqualifies someone from being Party Leader.

I suspect Conservative Party Members will show Mr. Charest this to be the case come September 10th, as they’ve been showing him at his empty rallies for weeks.”

Not only is Charest showing disrespect to the electorate as a whole with his hypocritical message, but his claim about Poilievre being ‘disqualified’ shows immense disrespect to the many Canadians who have gathered to watch Poilievre speak and who support Poilievre’s message.

However, if Charest wants to play the ‘disqualifying’ game, let’s go along with that for a while, shall we?

Huawei Charest

When confronted about his time spent working for Communist China-controlled Huawei, Charest framed it as being about the two Michaels and Meng Wanzhou:

“Conservative leadership candidate Jean Charest, says he is “very proud of what we did” with his work at Huawei.”


That kind of framing by Charest is understandable, since saying anything else would be politically untenable.

But what are the facts?

The best account of reality in this regard comes from Terry Glavin, who has written about Charest, Huawei, and China in detail.

Here’s an excerpt of one of his substack newsletters:

“It’s not just that the service Charest and his firm McCarthy Tétrault provided Huawei had nothing to do with the legal antic-making that the global corporation’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was making in her efforts to evade extradition to the United States to face conspiracy and fraud charges relating to a sanctions-evading operation in Iran.

It’s not just that Charest’s work was much more about Huawei’s hopes to persuade the Trudeau government to set aside any worries about being frozen out of the intelligence-sharing networks that come with membership in the “Five Eyes” grouping, along with the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

It’s that Huawei didn’t even ask for Charest’s legal advice in the matter of Meng Wanzhou’s courtroom strategies, and from what I’ve been able to gather, neither Charest nor anyone on the McCarthy Tétrault team he brought with him provided Huawei with any such thing. That’s not what Huawei brought them in to do, and it’s not what they did.

It’s also that in the generous understandings that Charest set out to procure from Huawei for himself and his McCarthy Tétrault team in the early months of 2019 – a lavish deal that came with an initial retainer in the neighbourhood of $70,000 a month and continued until at least the final weeks of 2021 – Huawei’s interest in “extradition” issues barely warranted a passing reference. It barely rated as an afterthought. Huawei already had a battery of lawyers at Meng’s beck and call anyway.”

This was also confirmed by the fact that Huawei publicly stated that Charest’s focus with them was about 5G:

“Chinese telecom Huawei says Conservative leadership hopeful Jean Charest focused predominantly on the company’s participation in Canada’s 5G networks and not the extradition case involving Meng Wanzhou.

In a statement to Global News, Alykhan Velshi, a former conservative strategist and the telecom’s vice president of corporate affairs in Canada, said the company would not wade into the Conservative leadership contest.

But after receiving a “number of questions” about Charest’s past work for the telecom, Velshi clarified the former Quebec premier predominantly focused around 5G issues for the company.

“Huawei is grateful to Jean Charest and the team at (law firm) McCarthy Tetrault for their loyal advice and support since mid-2019. The firm’s strategic support has mainly focused on 5G and the Canadian business-regulatory environment,” Velshi wrote in a statement.

“That said, in addition to 5G, they have supported Huawei on the full range of issues facing the company, and at times this has included limited assistance on the extradition issue.””

So, Charest attempted to frame his time with Huawei as being about the Two Michaels, while Huawei itself says it was about 5G, and then adds a throwaway line about ‘limited assistance’ on the extradition issue.

That’s quite the divergence.

What is truly disqualifying?

Let us now consider the following question:

What is truly disqualifying? Supporting a protest at a time when it was deemed legal and was a legitimate expression of opposition to government overreach, or working for a company controlled by a ruthless authoritarian state that commits cultural genocide and is contrary to the values we hold dear in Canada?

Charest’s attack on Poilievre looks like a desperate response to Poilievre’s growing momentum across the country, and seems designed to distract from Charest’s time working for Huawei – something the vast majority of Conservatives (and the broader Canadian electorate) likely find unacceptable.

If anyone is facing the problem of disqualifying actions, it’s Jean Charest.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – YouTube


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