This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Who’s Harper working for?

Is the China-Canada investment agreement a sell-out for Canada?

When an agreement is conducted with so much secrecy and lack of consultation with Canadians that Rick Mercer dedicates an entire rant to the subject, you know something is up. Two years ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then-president Hu Jintao quietly witnessed the signing of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement so many Canadians are up in arms about this week.

China went onto ratify the agreement not long thereafter, however Canada did not. Two years after the initial signing, a quiet press release issued on Friday afternoon dictated the deal was ratified, eliciting outrage from the public and politicians alike.

Let me make something clear. The many criticisms and concerns of this particular FIPA are not based on anti-business or anti-trade rhetoric, nor are they xenophobia – all tiresome accusations used by those in favour of this deal. In fact, even members of Harper’s own government expressed concerns over this agreement.

This particular FIPA stands out from the many others Canada has with trade and investment partners around the world for a few reasons.

It holds Canada legally bound for up to 31 years, not only with the current government, but subsequent ones as well.

Read Brent Stafford’s column here.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May stated: “Unlike NAFTA, with an exit clause of six-months’ notice, this agreement cannot be exited for the first 15 years. After 15 years, either country can exit on one-year’s notice, but any existing investments are further protected for another 15 years.”

And here’s where the “sell-out” begins. Any exit by Canada from this FIPA would rely on the Chinese government’s agreement, which is highly unlikely. Canada holds a wealth of investment and business opportunities for China both in resource and technology sectors.

The deal is said to be largely one-sided and offers little protection to Canadian investors in China. Here in Canada, it opens the door for legal actions from Chinese and state-owned investors against federal, provincial or municipal policies or actions that might interfere or impede with their business. The implications are staggering and open the door to large liabilities for Canadian taxpayers…

Read the rest of this week’s column, comment and vote at

Brought to you in part by the impatient foreign investors at CNOOC Energy Economics Institute

“It’s the same situation as the leftover single women. … It will be the same for the oil sands, they will be outdated just like unmarried single women,”

~ Chen Weidong, Chief Energy Researcher, speaking at the Canada China Forum for energy and the environment in Beijing, in reference to China’s growing frustration over Canada’s delays in approving takeovers and pipeline infrastructure which would allow China to get at our oil sands crude.

More from that same article:

“Canada’s oil sands risks being left behind by the global energy industry if the pipelines needed to carry bitumen to the west coast do not soon materialize, a Chinese oil industry academic warned.”

“But the mixed messages sent by the delays have led to confusion and frustration, observers warn.

Canada is “advertising a big dinner party, the Chinese paid for a big ticket, and now they come and we say, ‘Oh sorry, it’s just appetizers.’ It’s not that the Chinese invited themselves to dinner. We invited them,” said Wenran Jiang, the forum’s organizer, who also advises the Alberta government on its energy policy.”

…So sorry our concern for our sovereignty and environment is inconveniencing foreign investors.

Now, scroll down the page and register your input on the Canada China FIPA.

Stories within stories: Harper,why we must stop the Canada-China FIPA and the deal you still don’t really know about.

“I can retain neither respect nor affection for government which has been moving from wrong to wrong in order to defend its immorality”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

There are two very important things I would ask my readers to do today.

First, head on over to 

At the link above, you will find detailed and easy to understand instructions on how to register your comments with the sadly flawed, final environmental assessment for the Canada China FIPA that must be stopped. Please do so,because the deal has yet to be signed off on here in Canada. More on this in a moment.

The second thing I would ask you to do, is to send Elizabeth May a note of thanks for keeping her eyes out for this deal in the first place.

Yes, indeed, the press has featured a somewhat outraged Mulcair riding in on a giant waffle at the last moment, demanding an emergency debate and then… oh well, this is what we might do if we are elected… seriously, you really need to try and digest this mans words – if you can actually swallow this bafflegab.

Oh me! Oh my! Indeed the leader garnered great attention at this “11th hour” demand, such drama, such… politicking. Don’t get me wrong – if I had to choose today between Harpo Harper, the libs who are quite possibly going to be led down the fairy path by the fair skinned machismo laden young Trudeau, or the NDP- I would still vote NDP because the other two are simply not options for a true north strong and FREE. However, take note there’s a big waffle maker in Mulcairs closet somewhere…

Here is the story within the story behind this fiasco, and why I think we should give credit where credit is due to Ms. May, who the press for the large part, tend to ignore :

“On September 26, 2012 (the day after my Island Tides deadline), with no press release or briefing, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, rose in the House to table a few documents.  It was during a part of every day called “Routine Proceedings.”  The media had sped off for scrums after Question Period.  I was waiting my turn to table petitions.  Maybe another twenty MPs were in the Chamber when Deepak Obhrai tabled a deal with Norway and two with China – the agreement for peaceful use of nuclear energy and the “Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments” (the Canada-China Investment Treaty). “


“On October 1, 2012, I asked the Speaker for an Emergency Debate on the treaty.  I explained in a letter I had tabled with the Speaker on September 28 (and available on the website) all the reasons that it was an emergency.  Sadly, he ruled that it was not a case for an emergency debate.   I asked in Question Period on October 4th, with 16 sitting days left until the treaty takes effect, whether the Prime Minister had chosen to approve this treaty by Order in Council to keep its details from Canadians or to avoid having to force Conservative MPs to vote for something they did not believe in.  House Leader Peter Van Loan said there could be debate if an Opposition Party chose to use one of its Opposition Days to do so.  I cannot get either the Liberals or the NDP to agree to give it an Opposition Day.”

Well, well. Isn’t that something indeed?  Kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth for the grand performance of Mulcair being portrayed as the savior – which speaks more to political opportunism than good government for Canadians. If Elizabeth May had not been paying strict attention to this deal, it is likely it would have passed without fuss or muss in the typical Conservative stealth strategy and for that, I thank her. We should also give a shout out to MP Don Davies who did a fine job in the Standing Committee for International Trade, trying to get somewhere with the cons, to no avail – you can read that transcript here:

It was also Ms. May who noticed the second treaty tabled that day at the same time as the FIPA, one with quite alarming implications although not as far-reaching as the Canada-China FIPA. And while we must all concentrate on stopping the FIPA, I think you need to know about this as well.

It is the Protocol to the Agreement Between the Government Of Canada and the Government Of The People’s Republic Of China for Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.

Again, Ms. May sums up the contentious nature of this treaty:

“The nuclear deal is a cover for our sales of uranium to China.  Under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, no country is to sell nuclear materials to a country with nuclear weapons unless it can absolutely guarantee a system of verifications and monitoring to ensure uranium for peaceful uses does not end up in nuclear weapons.  The two page deal released September 26, cannot do that.”

And whose idea was this, Mr. Harper ? Rather alarming, considering the political situation in China is about to change and quite possibly things could get much more liberal… or step things back a decade to a more hardline time.

Here’s the thing about this “peaceful” nuclear treaty as well as the Canada-China FIPA.

They were never meant to be negotiated any further. They were never meant to be examined,dissected or otherwise discussed by the public at large.

They are exactly written as those who dictate such things behind this prime minister, and those who came before him in recent history, wanted it written. Terry Glavin said it best in a stunning commentary titled ‘ The Canada-China investment protection racket”:

“. . . The final thing you need to know about the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement is its specific function. It’s to elevate Canada’s China-trade business executives from their hitherto mostly supine position as accomplices of Beijing’s gangland regime to a more formalized and official status as willing accessories to the beggaring of the Chinese people and the plundering of their wealth.

Protection is precisely what FIPPA’s Canadian beneficiaries will be very much wanting one day when all their trade agreements, their exquisitely-phrased contracts and their joint-venture undertakings are ablaze in bonfires from Guangdong to Xinjiang. Protection is what they will want, and they will deserve no such thing.”

Terry gets into a little more, including Mulcair, in his later blog post aptly titled ‘ The Sopranos with Chinese Characteristics.’ 

All that’s missing in this deal is Harper in a thug hat and a pimped out low rider car with full tint windows.

Head over to this link and find out…

How You Can Help Stop Ratification of Canada-China FIPA

( for a full list of what happened in China back in February, please check out Wai Young’s website, MP for Vancouver South –her list of items signed or agreed upon, is twice as long as Harper’s list … and included items I have not heard before such as negotiations to share proceeds of crime with the Chinese government)

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


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 :


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:

And the original post with comments here:

Food for thought in consideration of the Canada-China FIPA

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.

An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.

But the traitor who moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.

For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men.

He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.

A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”

~  Marcus Tullius Cicero