Coming next week, final installment of Playing with the Dragon- read the second in the series now to catch up.

Originally posted in June of 2012, this post took a deeper look at how and who has played an integral role in the development of Canada’s foreign policy with China…and why Harper seemed to do an about-face when it comes to the Chinese government.

Playing with the Dragon II – The architects behind Canada’s China policy.

Who could forget this iconic image of a single man standing before the tanks, facing likely death? What strength lives in a soul to find oneself taking such action ?

I was raised in the sheltering woods and in relative isolation of the world beyond my hometown in northern British Columbia, with the CBC my only source of global information and newsfor much of that time. In 1989, watching the fight for democracy and freedom come to a head in China during the days and weeks of protests in and around Tiananmen Square were instrumental to my appreciation of true freedom and democracy.

Today, shocking news -or not, depending on how you look at it – comes to us from China. Li Wangyang, a Chinese dissident who had been jailed for more than 22 years for both his role in the 1989 protests, and later, for ‘inciting subversion’, was found dead.

Released from prison a year ago, he was in hospital for treatment of heart disease and diabetes when he was found with a strip of cloth around his neck, tied to a window bar above. Since he was known for his strong spirit and mind,and was seen in fine form the evening before,it was clearly a surprise to his family and friends, who do not believe he could have killed himself.

From the BBC:

“The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in China said Mr Li died “unusually”.

“We cannot rule out that security guards monitoring him tortured him to death and faked a suicide,” the centre said in a statement “

Li WangYang, 你終於可以去和平

 

China.The country whose government deems it necessary to imprison a poet for “subversion of state power” after he writes a poem that the court deemed was a serious crime that deserved severe punishment – from the National Post :

IT’S TIME

By Zhu Yufu, translated by A. E. Clark and reprinted with permission

It’s time, people of China! It’s time. The Square belongs to everyone. With your own two feet It’s time to head to the Square and make your choice.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time. A song belongs to everyone. From your own throat It’s time to voice the song in your heart.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time. China belongs to everyone. Of your own will It’s time to choose what China shall be.”

Indeed, as Zhu Yufu urges his fellow Chinese sisters and brothers to find their song and sing it for democracy and freedom, I urge my fellow Canadians to find their songs and sing them too,for there is a growing concern among many in this country about the increasing Chinese state-connected foothold on Canada’s resources and corporations, leaving Canadians security and interests at risk.

While many urged Harper to condemn the Chinese governments harsh assault on human rights and free speech, he instead railed on environmentalists in his visit to China earlier this year, and “his strongest words ever on human rights” really seemed to be nothing more than platitudes.

Certainly, the Chinese government would not consider having to address its horrific human rights record as a condition of doing business in, and with, Canada – and Stephen Harper seems just fine with that.

He, who was once stand-offish when it came to cultivating Chinese business interest in Canada is now going as far as stating he will over-rule environmental  and regulatory process to ensure the Northern Gateway project gets built. Chinese state connected corporations have been busy in Canada’s north and Harper has gone to extreme lengths to facilitate this surge.

Which leads me to ask, why is that? Why is the Canadian government seemingly so eager to get into a financial bed with the Chinese government and Chinese state-owned corporations, when so many have rung alarm bells at the risk of doing so, without adequate safeguards to Canadian interests?

To understand why, one has to look beyond the Prime Minister, and into corporate Canada, to two organizations that have been deemed the architects of Canada’s China policy for far longer than Harper has been Prime Minister : the aptly named Power Corporation and the Canada Chinese Business Council.

The Power Corporation of Canada, under the direction of Andre and Paul Desmarais jr., has long been referred to ( and written about) as ‘the’ power behind the upper echelon of Canadian politics, in particular the Privy Council and the Prime Ministers office.

In fact, the company has shared a long and lively history with several prime ministers of different political leanings, who have worked on staff, including Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Brian Mulroney. Over many years, political and professional connections continued in addition to personal ones, with the marriage of Andre Desmarais to Jean Cretiens daughter, so entrenched are the families and business/politics.

( In an aside, last night I was reading a book by publisher Douglas Gibson, ‘Stories About Storytellers’ in which he remarks on the memoirs of both Paul Martin and Brian Mulroney, both of whom talk about their time with Power Corporation and the Desmarais family – a fascinating read)

But I digress. Time to take a look at the Canada China Business Council in more depth. Deemed a private, not for profit association, it’s sole purpose is to facilite founding and member businesses in making as much money from trade and business with China as they possibly can, in the easiest and most unfettered manner.

Of note, is that in addition to Power Corporation, Export Development Canada and the Bank of Montreal, one of the founding members is CITIC, a state owned investment company of the Peoples Republic of China.

The board of directors of the China Canada Business Council is a veritable who’s who in Canadian politics and business, and boasts that:

‘Their cumulative corporate experience in China and their personal and business networks among China and Canada’s most senior government and business leaders is unparalleled. They speak with insight and authority on Canada-China trade and investment issues and their voices are heard.’

Indeed, the 2010/2011 board included the Desmarais family, Stockwell Day and a former ambassador to China.

And Stephen Harper, it seems, has definately heard their voices loud and clear.

Although Desmarais had long connections with three prior Prime Ministers, through Power Corp, and other political/personal ties, there was no such long history between the Desmarais family and Harper before he came into power. In fact, some wondered how much influence, if any, could come to bear on the new PM because of that lack of history.

As I touched on in the first installment of Playing With the Dragon – courtesy of Terry Glavins excellent article – Harper has visibly taken an about-face with respect to trade with China, and Canada-China relations, seemingly at great odds with Canada’s national interests.

The question remained for many why this was, and what prompted that about-face with China, but perhaps to understand we need to look back to 2010… and the photo Harper didn’t want you to see.

In fact, the photos Norman Spector was referring to in that article, are no longer included with the Globe and Mail article. Instead, you will have to head over to the Canada Free Press to see what photo Mr. Spector was talking about… and why many think it explains so much about Harpers big flip-flop in attitude towards trade and business with China. From that article:

“Leave it to the Globe and Mail, “Canada’s national newspaper” to flag The Photo Harper doesn’t want you to see without giving details about the person that Harper purportedly doesn’t want you to see.

“At last night’s dinner in Ottawa in honour of President Hu, from left to right, Andre Desmarais, president and co-Chair of the Power Corporation Board of Directors…who has contributed greatly to the strengthening of China-Canada relations, Hu Jintao and the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.”  (The Globe and Mail, June 25, 2010).

The first colour photo released from last night’s dinner by the Prime Minister’s Office blocks out the person sitting to the right of Hu Jintao because of the angle the picture was taken from and the small Chinese flag on the table.

All it took to solve the mystery was a black and white photo from La Presse newspaper, revealing the person hidden by the flag to be none other than Andre Desmarais, Power Corp CEO and son-in-law of former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Will heads be rolling today at La Presse?  After all, it is owned by Power Corp.

You can’t hide Andre Desmarais even when you’re the prime minister.

Power Corp. is the power behind the Canadian government, through both Liberal and Conservative governments.”

Well, well. Andre Desmarais with Stephen Harper and Chinese government officials? It might appear that not having a long history of business and personal ties to the Desmarais family is not an inpediment to progress in the Prime Ministers office.

None of what I write here, is news. It is known to most political junkies, most newspaper men and women and reported on infrequently in bits and pieces. However, when you connect the dots and put it all together to show the bigger picture.. all at once…

An ” Aha…” moment, if you will.

When large corporations straddle the line between policy influence and creation, between business and government, at a level that may impact national interests, we have a problem.

When a Chinese state ( government) owned investment company is involved in policy creation and influence,in any way, shape or form and a member of a Canadian business association, we have a problem.

When we have highly influential former government officials working in the middle of this, again straddling the line between business and policy making, how can Canadians even begin to have faith our government is putting our interests first ?

In my opinion, the answer is, we cannot. We cannot have faith our government is putting the interests of Canadians, our security and our defence, above foreign interest, or foreign influence.

And when some of the most powerful rainmakers have managed to hold court over at least two major federal political parties, as it would seem, the only option left had better work three times as hard to show Canadians how they intend to change the course of history in this country, before we stand to lose it all.

 

 

You can read the first installment of the Playing with the Dragon series, here: http://lailayuile.com/2012/04/12/playing-with-the-dragon-who-is-looking-after-canadian-interests-while-china-outwits-our-governments/

Be sure to read the comments below the original 2012 posting, http://lailayuile.com/2012/06/06/playing-with-the-dragon-ii-the-architects-behind-canadas-china-policy/

The bastardization of the Governor Generals office.

While many if not most Canadians were celebrating Thanksgiving with their families yesterday, distracted by tummies full of turkey, the news that Governor General David Johnston was headed to China came out. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/governor-general-heading-to-china-to-push-canada-sino-relations-forward/article14851243/

Governor-General David Johnston will serve as the sharp end of a political stick that the Harper government is pointing at China this coming week, amid renewed concern that Chinese investment in Canada is drying up.

Within hours of delivering Wednesday’s throne speech in Ottawa, Johnston will be on a plane bound for the People’s Republic for his first official visit as Governor-General.

~snip~

Johnston will address the powerful Canada China Business Council’s annual general meeting in Beijing a few days after his arrival. And he said he knows energy and investment will be top of mind.

China is hungry for natural resources and Canada is eager to oblige, but there are serious obstacles, including a stalled pipeline process to carry Alberta crude to Pacific Ocean ports, as well as mixed messages about whether Canada is really open to foreign investment from so-called state-owned enterprises.

Correct me if I am wrong, but when was the title “Lobbyist” added to the Governor General’s duties?

From the Governor Generals website: ” The governor general is non-partisan and apolitical.”

Since when has it become acceptable and proper for the office that is expected to be non-partisan in function, a safeguard against abuse of power whose role is largely constitutional and ceremonial, to head on over to China to drum up business for Harper? This trip is anything but non-partisan and apolitical!! He is specifically going to reassure Chinese investors, and Chinese state-owned investors, that Canada is open for business and please give us some as soon as possible.

It is not only a severe blow to the respect inherent to the office, it is a complete bastardization of the title bestowed upon David Johnston.

Johnston is speaking to some of the most powerful business leaders in the world, at the AGM of the Canada China Business Council, whom I have written about previously.

 ” The Canada China Business Council (CCBC) is the country’s Canada-China bilateral trade and investment facilitator, catalyst and advocate. Founded in 1978 as a private, not-for-profit business association, CCBC provides unparalleled insight into Sino-Canadian trade and investment issues and develops connections that ensure its members’ business success. In addition to its focused and practical services, the Council is also the voice of the Canadian business community on issues affecting Sino-Canadian trade and investment. “

Their website states : “Our business events offer CCBC members privileged opportunities to engage Canadian and Chinese officials..”

No kidding. The Board of Directors and members of the Council are a Who’s Who of the business world and political players. SNC Lavalin, Power Corporation, including representatives from Chinese State owned Investment companies : http://www.ccbc.com/about/board-of-directors/

Indeed…. Governor General David Johnston has become just another political tool in Stephen Harper’s playbook. When non-partisan offices use government resources to lobby big business overseas, and no one bats an eyelash, there’s something wrong in Canada.

I leave you with this excerpt from my prior post on the Canada China Business Council and Harper:

“When large corporations straddle the line between policy influence and creation, between business and government, at this level, we have a problem.

When a Chinese state owned investment company is involved in policy creation and influence,in any way, shape or form and a member of a Canadian business association, we have a problem.

When we have highly influential former government officials working in the middle of this, again straddling the line between business and policy making, how can Canadians even begin to have faith our government is putting our interests first ?

In my opinion, the answer is, we cannot. We cannot have faith our government is putting the interests of Canadians, our security and our defense, above foreign interest, or foreign influence.

And when some of the most powerful rainmakers have managed to hold court over at least two major federal political parties, as it would seem, the only option left had better work three times as hard to show Canadians how they intend to change the course of history in this country, before we lose it all.”

“He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.” ~ George Orwell

The hypocrisy of Stephen Harper’s recent announcement that he would be boycotting the big grand poo-bah’s summit in Sri Lanka next month is stunning.

The lack of comment on it thus far, even more so. According to reports from overseas:

” Canada will skip the meeting because of  what Harper called “serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian standards during and after the civil war,” which ended there four years ago with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. “

Because I know that the Privy Council office reads here frequently, I would like to point out that it’s really hard to take Harper’s momentary bouts of concern over human rights in other countries seriously, because of his abrupt flip-flop on his new BFF, the Chinese government .

In many ways, China’s record on human rights is getting worse, not better.  Increasingly, targets are not only religious minorities such as the Falun Gong, but of political activists and their families.

In August, representatives from the US has this to say about the state of human rights in China:

China‘s human rights situation is getting worse, a senior US official said in Beijing on Friday, as reports of another detention increased fears of a crackdown on activists and lawyers.

Uzra Zeya, who led the US side in annual bilateral rights dialogue, cited increasing pressure on activists’ friends and relatives and religious restrictions in Tibet and Xinjiang.

“I think we have continued to see a deterioration in the overall situation in China,” said Zeva, the acting assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour.

“The specific issue of the targeting of family members is one reason for that assessment: the case of the family of Liu Xiaobo, of Chen Guangcheng and other instances. This is a worrisome trend and one we have raised at senior levels.”

Even though China – which is still ruled by the Chinese Communist Party – signed the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), on October 5, 1998 – it has never actually ratified it. http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/10/08/china-ratify-key-international-human-rights-treaty

“Human Rights Watch believes that there are no credible reasons for the Chinese government to further delay ratification, absent which the government is not fully bound to uphold the treaty’s protections.

“China wants to join the UN’s top human rights body, but it won’t submit itself to the standards that body is sworn to apply,” said Sophie Richardson, China Director.

China is the only country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council not to have joined the ICCPR which guarantees essential rights ranging from the right to trial before an independent and impartial court to freedom of expression and political participation through regular and free elections.”

Adding to the glaring hypocrisy of Harpers human rights position this week, are stories of:

– forced abortions in some provinces to enforce the one-child law: http://news.sky.com/story/1150016/china-couple-speak-of-forced-abortion

-the arrest of political activists in China, by State authorities: http://www.voanews.com/content/china-arrests-activist-for-seeking-public-comments-in-un-rights-report/1760594.html

China, for as much as it appears to be a modern, progressive society, is still anything but all of those labels, if you oppose the government, its policies and it’s laws. When you can be jailed for 7 years for poetry that pushes and calls for democracy,  democracy does not yet truly exist in the motherland.

This is why I laugh when Harper feigns concerns over Sri Lanka’s humans rights. How easily he forgets when it comes to the government of Chinas failing on that very issue.

From “Playing with the DragonsII: The architects behind Canada’s China Policy” :

“Certainly, the Chinese government would not consider having to address its horrific human rights record as a condition of doing business in, and with, Canada – and Stephen Harper seems just fine with that.

He, who was once stand-offish when it came to cultivating Chinese business interest in Canada is now going as far as stating he will over-rule environmental  and regulatory process to ensure the Northern Gateway project gets built. Chinese state connected corporations have been busy in Canada’s north and Harper has gone to extreme lengths to facilitate this surge.

Which leads me to ask, why is that? Why is the Canadian government seemingly so eager to get into a financial bed with the Chinese government and Chinese state-connected corporations, when so many other governments have rung alarm bells at the risk of doing so, without adequate safeguards to Canadian interests?

To understand why, one has to look beyond the Prime Minister, and into corporate Canada, to two organizations that have been deemed the architects of Canada’s China policy for far longer than Harper has been Prime Minister : the aptly named Power Corporation and the Canada Chinese Business Council.

The Power Corporation of Canada, under the direction of Andre and Paul Desmarais, has long been referred to ( and written about) as being ’the’ power behind the upper echelon of Canadian politics, in particular the Privy Council and the Prime Ministers office.

In fact, the company has shared a long and lively history with several prime ministers of different political leanings, who have worked on staff, including Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Brian Mulroney. Over many years, political and professional connections continued in addition to personal ones, with the marriage of Andre Desmarais to Jean Cretiens daughter, so entrenched are the families and business/politics…

Read all of this post and more, here: http://lailayuile.com/2012/06/06/playing-with-the-dragon-ii-the-architects-behind-canadas-china-policy/

harperhockeyIronically,while Rome Canada burns, Harper has oddly moved onto violence in hockey, a sport he has been known to watch while drinking a double double with our dear Christy Clark who also is an avid sports fan.

The question then becomes, in the face of all this rampant hypocrisy on human rights, what is the real reason Harper is boycotting Sri Lanka? Is is simply about the money, or is there something more?

Or am I the only one who noticed that while he is rolling out the red carpet for a country ( China) with one of the worst human rights records in history… he is  now boycotting another?

Chinese State owned oil giant plans takeover of Canadian based Novus Energy.

Yes, another one bites the dust and while investors clink glasses of fine scotch as they watch the stock prices rise, I’m left wondering what this slow but steady advance of Chinese state takeovers in Canada will ultimately mean – not only for our country, but for our ability to control our own resources.

It appears I am not the only one left what the end game will be played out. This is a great read.

http://www.midasletter.com/2013/09/novus-energy-takeover-underscores-chinese-preference-canadian-acquisitions/

More recent news on Chinese interests in Canada : http://lailayuile.com/2013/08/28/petro-china-executives-face-corruption-probe/

http://lailayuile.com/2013/08/24/canada-signs-initiative-with-china-to-promote-high-level-military-exchanges/

 

*** check back in the next day or so for a more Translink revelations.

Canada signs initiative with China to “promote high level military exchanges”

While everyone is up in arms over the story of a Chinese reporter being denied the right to ask questions of Harper following some sort of shoving incident, perhaps what is a far more important story of Sino-Canadian relations has gone by the wayside.

As reported in the Chinese newspaper People’s Daily Online http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90883/8376276.html , Chinese defence minister Chang Wanquan  and Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson held talks on Thursday and signed an initiative following their meetings.

Chang said military relations between China and Canada have maintained a sound momentum of development, as evidenced by frequent contacts between military leaders of the two sides, and their smooth and close coordination on global and regional issues.

Meanwhile, continuous progress has been made in bilateral military cooperation, such as in military training, international peace-keeping, defense education and mutual visits by warships, he said.

Chang also said China is ready to work with Canada to enhance their military ties by promoting high-level exchanges, strengthening strategic mutual trust, deepening pragmatic exchanges and cooperation, and reinforcing multilateral coordination.

Nicolson said he is glad to see the two militaries have engaged in positive interactions. He said, as Canada and China share common interests in many issues, militaries of the two countries need to promote dialogue and deepen cooperation in a bid to push their relations forward continuously.

After the meeting, Chang and Nicolson signed an initiative, under which the two countries agreed to promote high-level military exchanges and establish a defence coordination dialogue mechanism. Also on Thursday, Chang held talks with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. 

This comes following  two events of note earlier this year:  the keynote speech given by Ambassador Zhang Junsai at a luncheon in Calgary hosted by Alberta Oil Magazine( May 30th, 2013) , and the historic visit and meetings of Peter Mackay with  Chinese defense minister Chang Wanquan a few days later in Beijing. ( June 2nd, 2013)

At the luncheon hosted by Alberta Oil Magazine in May, Amabassador Zhang Junsai offered several insights into both China’s investment and resource strategy, as well as how they view Canada’s resources.

The speech, is a compelling read regardless of the forum in which it was presented. Here is an excerpt, but I suggest you read the entire speech :

From http://ca.china-embassy.org/eng/sgxw/t1046181.htm

No.5, People should have more objective and square perceptions of Chinese investments in Canada.

The debate about the Nexen deal last year left me with the impression that the public opinion environment for Chinese investments in Canada are yet favorable.

I wish to stress two facts regarding the Chinese investments.

The first one is that China is a market economy, and China’s state-owned enterprises, such as CNOOC, are independent market players, whose investments in Canada’s energy sector, just like in other countries, are sheer market-driven decisions.

While investing here, they have made due contribution to local employment, community development and fulfilled their social responsibilities.

In fact, China-Canada energy cooperation can’t go fast without the SOEs, because almost all the big energy companies in China are SOEs, and those with clear strength in capital and technologies are also SOEs.

This is determined by China’s system.

The second one is that the Chinese investors did not come to Canada to grab this country’s wealth of resources.

The major motive driving them here is to optimize the portfolio of their overseas investments and learn the best technology and management know-hows, just like everyone else.

Some of you may have contacts or even cooperation with Chinese companies and I believe most of them have left you with nice impression.

Of course, the responsibility to improve public image depends mainly on the good practices and effective PR by the Chinese investors.

I still hope that you can help explain to the Canadian people with your own experience that what China wants in its energy cooperation with Canada is nothing but a win-win scenario.

In conclusion, I wish the energy cooperation between China and Canada continue to score better and more achievements in the future so as to inject more positive energy to this important partnership between our two great countries. And again, I congratulate you all for your great performance which has made you so outstanding. Thank you.

Is this latest meeting that has not been largely reported by media outlets yet, cause for concern? Ultimately, time will tell, but it shows yet another example of Harpers turnabout on his attitude and relationship with the Chinese government, and Sino-Canadian policies.

Repost from June 2012 : “Playing with the Dragon II – The architects behind Canada’s China Policy.”

At this juncture in Canadian history, as our federal government signs what was passed off as a run of the mill trade deal with China that is cloaked in so much secrecy, it brings to mind questions as to the motivation for such a move.

It seems that while many have just begun to realise the depth of the Chinese governments interest in Canada, many more fail to realise this has not happened overnight. In fact, it has been a long and dedicated effort by many to reach this point, and for that reason I am re-posting one of the most examined posts on my site. The link to the first in this series is below this story.

There is much at stake. Read, digest and share.

Playing with the Dragon II – The architects behind Canada’s China policy.

Posted on June 6, 2012by

In 1989, I sat alone in front of the TV, watching the fight for democracy and freedom come to a head in China. Who could forget this iconic image of a single man standing before the tanks, facing likely death? What strength lives in a soul to find yourself taking such action ? For a young woman like myself, raised in the sheltering woods and relative isolation of the world beyond my hometown in northern British Columbia, pre-internet, and the CBC my only source of global information and news,  the days and weeks of protests in and around Tiananmen Square were instrumental to my appreciation of true freedom and democracy.

Today, shocking news -or not, depending on how you look at it – comes to us from China. Li Wangyang, a Chinese dissident who had been jailed for more than 22 years for both his role in the 1989 protests, and later, for ‘inciting subversion’, was found dead. Released from prison a year ago, he was in hospital for treatment of heart disease and diabetes when he was found with a strip of cloth around his neck, tied to a window bar above. Since he was known for his strong spirit and mind,and was seen in fine form the evening before,it was clearly a surprise to his family and friends, who do not believe he could have killed himself.

From the BBC:

“The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in China said Mr Li died “unusually”.

“We cannot rule out that security guards monitoring him tortured him to death and faked a suicide,” the centre said in a statement “

Li WangYang, 你終於可以去和平

China.

The country whose government deems it necessary to imprison a poet for “subversion of state power” after he writes a poem that the court deemed was a serious crime that deserved severe punishment – from the National Post :

IT’S TIME

By Zhu Yufu, translated by A. E. Clark and reprinted with permission

It’s time, people of China! It’s time. The Square belongs to everyone. With your own two feet It’s time to head to the Square and make your choice.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time. A song belongs to everyone. From your own throat It’s time to voice the song in your heart.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time. China belongs to everyone. Of your own will It’s time to choose what China shall be.”

Indeed, as Zhu Yufu urges his fellow Chinese sisters and brothers to find their song and sing it, I urge my fellow Canadians to find their songs and sing them too…for there is a growing concern among many in this country about the increasing foothold on Canada’s resources and corporations, leaving Canadians security and interests at risk.

While many urged Harper to condemn this harsh assault on human rights and free speech, he instead railed on environmentalists in his visit to China earlier this year, and ” his strongest words ever on human rights” really seemed to be nothing more than platitudes.

Certainly, the Chinese government would not consider having to address its horrific human rights record as a condition of doing business in, and with, Canada – and Stephen Harper seems just fine with that. He, who was once stand-offish when it came to cultivating Chinese business interest in Canada is now going as far as stating he will over-rule environmental  and regulatory process to ensure the Northern Gateway project gets built. Chinese state connected corporations have been busy in Canada’s north and Harper has gone to extreme lengths to facilitate this surge.

Which leads me to ask, why is that? Why is the Canadian government seemingly so eager to get into a financial bed with the Chinese government and Chinese corporations, when so many have rung alarm bells at the risk of doing so, without adequate safeguards to Canadian interests?

To understand why, one has to look beyond the Prime Minister, and into corporate Canada, to two organizations that have been deemed the architects of Canada’s China policy for far longer than Harper has been Prime Minister : the aptly named Power Corporation and the Canada Chinese Business Council.

The Power Corporation of Canada, under the direction of Andre and Paul Desmarais, has long been referred to ( and written about) as being ’the’ power behind the upper echelon of Canadian politics, in particular the Privy Council and the Prime Ministers office.

In fact, the company has shared a long and lively history with several prime ministers of different political leanings, who have worked on staff, including Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Brian Mulroney. Over many years, political and professional connections continued in addition to personal ones, with the marriage of Andre Desmarais to Jean Cretiens daughter, so entrenched are the families and business/politics.

( In an aside, last night I was reading a book by publisher Douglas Gibson, ‘Stories About Storytellers’ in which he remarks on the memoirs of both Paul Martin and Brian Mulroney, both of whom talk about their time with Power Corporation and the Desmarais family – a fascinating read)

But I digress. Time to take a look at the Canada China Business Council in more depth. Deemed a private, not for profit association, it’s sole purpose appears to be facilitating founding and member businesses in making as much money from trade and business with China as they possibly can, in the easiest and most unfettered manner. Read that as, free of trade and regulatory interference, if you wish.

Of note, is that in addition to Power Corporation, Export Development Canada and the Bank of Montreal, one of the founding members is CITIC, a state owned investment company of the Peoples Republic of China.

The board of directors of the China Canada Business Council is a veritable who’s who in Canadian politics and business, and boasts that ”Their cumulative corporate experience in China and their personal and business networks among China and Canada’s most senior government and business leaders is unparalleled. They speak with insight and authority on Canada-China trade and investment issues and their voices are heard.”

Indeed, the 2010/2011 board included the Desmarais, Stockwell Day and a former ambassador to China.

And Stephen Harper, it seems, has heard their voices loud and clear.

Although Desmarais had long connections with three prior Prime Ministers, through Power Corp, and other political/personal ties, there was no such long history between the Desmarais family and Harper before he came into power. In fact, some wondered how much influence, if any, could come to bear on the new PM because of that lack of history.

As I touched on in the first installment of Playing With the Dragon – courtesy of Terry Glavins excellent article – Harper has visibly taken an about-face with respect to trade with China, and Canada-China relations, seemingly at great odds with Canada’s national interests.

The question remained for many why this was, and what prompted that about-face with China, but perhaps to understand we need to look back to 2010… and the photo Harper didn’t want you to see.

In fact, the photos Norman Spector was referring to in that article, are no longer included with the Globe and Mail article. Instead, you will have to head over to the Canada Free Press to see what photo Mr. Spector was talking about… and why many think it explains so much about Harpers big flip-flop in attitude towards trade and business with China. From that article:

“Leave it to the Globe and Mail, “Canada’s national newspaper” to flag The Photo Harper doesn’t want you to seewithout giving details about the person that Harper purportedly doesn’t want you to see.

“At last night’s dinner in Ottawa in honour of President Hu, from left to right, Andre Desmarais, president and co-Chair of the Power Corporation Board of Directors…who has contributed greatly to the strengthening of China-Canada relations, Hu Jintao and the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.”  (The Globe and Mail, June 25, 2010).

The first colour photo released from last night’s dinner by the Prime Minister’s Office blocks out the person sitting to the right of Hu Jintao because of the angle the picture was taken from and the small Chinese flag on the table.

All it took to solve the mystery was a black and white photo from La Presse newspaper, revealing the person hidden by the flag to be none other than Andre Desmarais, Power Corp CEO and son-in-law of former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Will heads be rolling today at La Presse?  After all, it is owned by Power Corp.

You can’t hide Andre Desmarais even when you’re the prime minister.

Power Corp. is the power behind the Canadian government, through both Liberal and Conservative governments.”

Well, well. Andre Desmarais with Stephen Harper and Chinese government officials? It might appear that not having a long history of business and personal ties to the Desmarais family is not an inpediment to progress in the Prime Ministers office.

None of what I write here, is news. It is known to most political junkies, most newspaper men and women and reported on infrequently in bits and pieces. However, when you connect the dots and put it all together to show the bigger picture.. all at once…

An ” Aha…” moment, if you will.

When large corporations straddle the line between policy influence and creation, between business and government, at this level, we have a problem.

When a Chinese state owned investment company is involved in policy creation and influence,in any way, shape or form and a member of a Canadian business association, we have a problem.

When we have highly influential former government officials working in the middle of this, again straddling the line between business and policy making, how can Canadians even begin to have faith our government is putting our interests first ?

In my opinion, the answer is, we cannot. We cannot have faith our government is putting the interests of Canadians, our security and our defence, above foreign interest, or foreign influence.

And when some of the most powerful rainmakers have managed to hold court over at least two major federal political parties, as it would seem, the only option left had better work three times as hard to show Canadians how they intend to change the course of history in this country, before we lose it all.

You can read the first installment of the Playing with the Dragon series, here: http://lailayuile.com/2012/04/12/playing-with-the-dragon-who-is-looking-after-canadian-interests-while-china-outwits-our-governments/

And the original post with comments here: http://lailayuile.com/2012/06/06/playing-with-the-dragon-ii-the-architects-behind-canadas-china-policy/

Christy being authentically authentic in China raises questions.

Thank goodness I’ve resolved all technical issues, seems the takedown of Godaddy by Anonymous had a trickle down effect around the world. Anyways, stay calm and carry on and all that…but  it’s too late for your post today so watch for that tomorrow.

However, I did just notice this coming in over Twitter….. Oh look, it’s our still unelected premier, Christy Clark, being authentic and whatever in China, talking about families and all that warm fuzzy stuff. And are those new glasses? Oh, how authentic! How intellectual! How….. how Christy.

“You know those trade opportunities are all about  families first and you know it doesn’t bother us about doing business with a government that you know, is trying hard to take over all Canadian resources and you know that’s ok, because its jobs and that means good things for families, and we need to expand the ports and look at this big bridge!! “  OK, she didn’t really say that but really, enough of her monotonous slogan already.

As you may have heard, Christy has announced the opening of a new trade office in Hong Kong. That’s all great and dandy, maybe we’ll get more foreign companies to open more mines here and bring in more Chinese workers… opps, sorry, that’s not BC families first though, is it ?

I digress. All of this concerns me a bit, for a few reasons.

One, economists around the world have been increasingly sounding the alarm on the state of the Chinese economy and it thought that a big slump is headed their way in 2013. That bodes ill for countries or provinces relying on Asian economics to boost our local economies. In fact, in light of disappointing financial news from that country, the Chinese president just warned that a further slowdown is coming after it was revealed that China’s imports shrank in August.

Second, after doing extensive research for the Playing with the Dragon posts on Canada/China relations, policy and the active involvement of the Chinese government in our federal government, I have serious concerns about how these trips to China are being conducted.

With seemingly every government but our own ( federally and provincially) taking the very real threat of Chinese espionage seriously, one must wonder if our premier and her consorts, take the same precautions many corporate and government travellers to China take.

Do we bring our own translators ? Or do our government officials use the ones provided, most graciously, by the Chinese government, who have been alleged to be anything but translators – a ploy that has worked quite well in the past for monitoring what foreign governments and business are speaking about amongst themselves.

Is our premier and her staff aware that in China, … “All hotel rooms and offices are considered to be subject to onsite or remote technical monitoring at all times. Hotel rooms, residences, and offices may be accessed at any time without the occupants’ consent or knowledge… All means of communication — telephones, mobile phones, faxes, e-mails, text messages, etc. — are likely monitored.” .. as per the China 2012 Crime and Safety Report: Beijing ?

While I am sure the premier isn’t carrying around any potentially sensitive information in her laptop, ipad or cellphone, one can’t discount what any government information might be used for or what it would be worth to a foreign company or government such as China. Considering the lengths many executives and governments are taking when they must do business in China, it’s worth examination of our governments procedures, in particular when our premier is opening another trade office there – a prime target for monitoring if ever there was one – considering the increasing presence of Chinese government connected companies operating in Canada, and in British Columbia.

Playing with the Dragon II – The architects behind Canada’s China policy.

In 1989, I sat alone in front of the TV, watching the fight for democracy and freedom come to a head in China. Who could forget this iconic image of a single man standing before the tanks, facing likely death? What strength lives in a soul to find yourself taking such action ? For a young woman like myself, raised in the sheltering woods and relative isolation of the world beyond my hometown in northern British Columbia, pre-internet, and the CBC my only source of global information and news,  the days and weeks of protests in and around Tiananmen Square were instrumental to my appreciation of true freedom and democracy.

Today, shocking news -or not, depending on how you look at it – comes to us from China. Li Wangyang, a Chinese dissident who had been jailed for more than 22 years for both his role in the 1989 protests, and later, for ‘inciting subversion’, was found dead. Released from prison a year ago, he was in hospital for treatment of heart disease and diabetes when he was found with a strip of cloth around his neck, tied to a window bar above. Since he was known for his strong spirit and mind,and was seen in fine form the evening before,it was clearly a surprise to his family and friends, who do not believe he could have killed himself.

From the BBC:

“The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in China said Mr Li died “unusually”.

“We cannot rule out that security guards monitoring him tortured him to death and faked a suicide,” the centre said in a statement “

Li WangYang, 你終於可以去和平

China.

The country whose government deems it necessary to imprison a poet for “subversion of state power” after he writes a poem that the court deemed was a serious crime that deserved severe punishment – from the National Post :

IT’S TIME

By Zhu Yufu, translated by A. E. Clark and reprinted with permission

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
The Square belongs to everyone.
With your own two feet
It’s time to head to the Square and make your choice.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
A song belongs to everyone.
From your own throat
It’s time to voice the song in your heart.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
China belongs to everyone.
Of your own will
It’s time to choose what China shall be.”

Indeed, as Zhu Yufu urges his fellow Chinese sisters and brothers to find their song and sing it, I urge my fellow Canadians to find their songs and sing them too…for there is a growing concern among many in this country about the increasing foothold on Canada’s resources and corporations, leaving Canadians security and interests at risk.

While many urged Harper to condemn this harsh assault on human rights and free speech, he instead railed on environmentalists in his visit to China earlier this year, and ” his strongest words ever on human rights” really seemed to be nothing more than platitudes.

Certainly, the Chinese government would not consider having to address its horrific human rights record as a condition of doing business in, and with, Canada – and Stephen Harper seems just fine with that. He, who was once stand-offish when it came to cultivating Chinese business interest in Canada is now going as far as stating he will over-rule environmental  and regulatory process to ensure the Northern Gateway project gets built. Chinese state connected corporations have been busy in Canada’s north and Harper has gone to extreme lengths to facilitate this surge.

Which leads me to ask, why is that? Why is the Canadian government seemingly so eager to get into a financial bed with the Chinese government and Chinese corporations, when so many have rung alarm bells at the risk of doing so, without adequate safeguards to Canadian interests?

To understand why, one has to look beyond the Prime Minister, and into corporate Canada, to two organizations that have been deemed the architects of Canada’s China policy for far longer than Harper has been Prime Minister : the aptly named Power Corporation and the Canada Chinese Business Council.

The Power Corporation of Canada, under the direction of Andre and Paul Desmarais, has long been referred to ( and written about) as being ‘the’ power behind the upper echelon of Canadian politics, in particular the Privy Council and the Prime Ministers office.

In fact, the company has shared a long and lively history with several prime ministers of different political leanings, who have worked on staff, including Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Brian Mulroney. Over many years, political and professional connections continued in addition to personal ones, with the marriage of Andre Desmarais to Jean Cretiens daughter, so entrenched are the families and business/politics.

( In an aside, last night I was reading a book by publisher Douglas Gibson, ‘Stories About Storytellers’ in which he remarks on the memoirs of both Paul Martin and Brian Mulroney, both of whom talk about their time with Power Corporation and the Desmarais family – a fascinating read)

But I digress. Time to take a look at the Canada China Business Council in more depth. Deemed a private, not for profit association, it’s sole purpose appears to be facilitating founding and member businesses in making as much money from trade and business with China as they possibly can, in the easiest and most unfettered manner. Read that as, free of trade and regulatory interference, if you wish.

Of note, is that in addition to Power Corporation, Export Development Canada and the Bank of Montreal, one of the founding members is CITIC, a state owned investment company of the Peoples Republic of China.

The board of directors of the China Canada Business Council is a veritable who’s who in Canadian politics and business, and boasts that “Their cumulative corporate experience in China and their personal and business networks among China and Canada’s most senior government and business leaders is unparalleled. They speak with insight and authority on Canada-China trade and investment issues and their voices are heard.”

Indeed, the 2010/2011 board included the Desmarais, Stockwell Day and a former ambassador to China.

And Stephen Harper, it seems, has heard their voices loud and clear.

Although Desmarais had long connections with three prior Prime Ministers, through Power Corp, and other political/personal ties, there was no such long history between the Desmarais family and Harper before he came into power. In fact, some wondered how much influence, if any, could come to bear on the new PM because of that lack of history.

As I touched on in the first installment of Playing With the Dragon – courtesy of Terry Glavins excellent article – Harper has visibly taken an about-face with respect to trade with China, and Canada-China relations, seemingly at great odds with Canada’s national interests.

The question remained for many why this was, and what prompted that about-face with China, but perhaps to understand we need to look back to 2010… and the photo Harper didn’t want you to see.

In fact, the photos Norman Spector was referring to in that article, are no longer included with the Globe and Mail article. Instead, you will have to head over to the Canada Free Press to see what photo Mr. Spector was talking about… and why many think it explains so much about Harpers big flip-flop in attitude towards trade and business with China. From that article:

“Leave it to the Globe and Mail, “Canada’s national newspaper” to flag The Photo Harper doesn’t want you to seewithout giving details about the person that Harper purportedly doesn’t want you to see.

“At last night’s dinner in Ottawa in honour of President Hu, from left to right, Andre Desmarais, president and co-Chair of the Power Corporation Board of Directors…who has contributed greatly to the strengthening of China-Canada relations, Hu Jintao and the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.”  (The Globe and Mail, June 25, 2010).

The first colour photo released from last night’s dinner by the Prime Minister’s Office blocks out the person sitting to the right of Hu Jintao because of the angle the picture was taken from and the small Chinese flag on the table.

All it took to solve the mystery was a black and white photo from La Presse newspaper, revealing the person hidden by the flag to be none other than Andre Desmarais, Power Corp CEO and son-in-law of former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. 

Will heads be rolling today at La Presse?  After all, it is owned by Power Corp.

You can’t hide Andre Desmarais even when you’re the prime minister.

Power Corp. is the power behind the Canadian government, through both Liberal and Conservative governments.”

Well, well. Andre Desmarais with Stephen Harper and Chinese government officials? It might appear that not having a long history of business and personal ties to the Desmarais family is not an inpediment to progress in the Prime Ministers office.

None of what I write here, is news. It is known to most political junkies, most newspaper men and women and reported on infrequently in bits and pieces. However, when you connect the dots and put it all together to show the bigger picture.. all at once…

An ” Aha…” moment, if you will.

When large corporations straddle the line between policy influence and creation, between business and government, at this level, we have a problem.

When a Chinese state owned investment company is involved in policy creation and influence,in any way, shape or form and a member of a Canadian business association, we have a problem.

When we have highly influential former government officials working in the middle of this, again straddling the line between business and policy making, how can Canadians even begin to have faith our government is putting our interests first ?

In my opinion, the answer is, we cannot. We cannot have faith our government is putting the interests of Canadians, our security and our defence, above foreign interest, or foreign influence.

And when some of the most powerful rainmakers have managed to hold court over at least two major federal political parties, as it would seem, the only option left had better work three times as hard to show Canadians how they intend to change the course of history in this country, before we lose it all.

You can read the first installment of the Playing with the Dragon series, here: http://lailayuile.com/2012/04/12/playing-with-the-dragon-who-is-looking-after-canadian-interests-while-china-outwits-our-governments/