Just when you think you’ve seen it all…

… you see this story:

”   Chuck Strahl, Chairman of the federal body which oversees Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has registered to lobby on behalf of Enbridge’s ‘Northern Gateway Pipelines Limited Partnership’.


“Strahl replaced disgraced Chairman Dr. Arthur Porter, who is currently in a Panamanian jail facing a range of charges from money laundering, to taking kickbacks and conspiracy to commit fraud while acting as a middleman for SNC-Lavalin and other private business interests.

The Security Intelligence Review Committee reports to Parliament on all activities undertaken by CSIS – and with the exception of cabinet secrets, Strahl’s position affords access to all intelligence gathered by the organization. “

Ah yes…. so of course it makes perfect sense for his firm to lobby for Enbridge….

And no… this wasn’t a story from The Onion. Although it could have been…

It’s actually real news, here in Canada. I clarify that for my many American readers.. :)

Read the rest of this unbelievable story, at this link..http://www.vancouverobserver.com/politics/investigations/canada%E2%80%99s-top-spy-watchdog-lobbying-enbridge-northern-gateway-pipeline?page=0,0

How this is legal in our wonderful country, I don’t know. But when I look back at some of the stories I have done where political interference in CSIS affairs plays a role, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised after all…

Oh wait.. but wasn’t there some kind of fuss over statements Premier Christy Clark made over Chuck Strahl helping her campaign?

Statements like Stockwell Day and Chuck Strahl are “very actively helping us on the campaign and I’m really proud of the contribution they’re making,” ????

I guess I must have imagined that… http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/04/23/brian-hutchinson-b-c-premier-christy-clarks-baffling-campaign-strategy-is-to-misinform-mislead-and-make-up-stuff/

Because when you look at all of these as parts of one bigger story… it doesn’t look very good now… does it?

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Leaks help countries stand up to U.S abuse of power.

This week’s topic:

Do recent revelations of U.S. spying on its allies do more harm than good?

“I had to pinch myself after reading Brent’s column this week — and hard. His laughable comparison of the recent spying allegations against the U.S to eavesdropping on social chatter at a party had me thinking I must be still dreaming.

As in past Duels tackling the issue of government espionage and the Edward Snowden leaks, Brent’s repetitive defence of the U.S. government’s actions and continued outrage stands in stark contrast to my own stance. I firmly believe that people — and other allied governments — have a right to privacy and liberty, and must be protected from what I consider the U.S. government’s abuse of power.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

It seems German Chancellor Angela Merkel would agree with my view, after it was revealed her cell phone may have been tapped since approximately 2002 by the U.S. government. She was not alone in her outrage, as revelations surfaced that numerous other high-ranking government officials from allied countries around the world had also been allegedly targeted.

But the question needs to be asked as to why the U.S. feels the need for such seeming sweeping surveillance and collection of data targeting allied countries? Without a doubt there is growing concern worldwide for government spying in general. Thanks to Bradley Manning and Snowden, the issue has been brought back into mainstream conversation here and in the U.S.

Espionage with due and just cause under provisions of the law is part and parcel of many governments’ defence strategy — whether they admit it or not. But what possible reason could the U.S. have to tap the German leader’s cell phone? And, in particular, for 12 years as some reports suggest? German officials have already confirmed that any such monitoring operation occurring on German soil would be an offence under German law and those responsible must be held accountable…”

Read the rest of this week’s post at the following link, and don’t forget to vote for who you think should win this week’s duel! http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/10/27/leaks-help-countries-stand-up-to-us-abuse-of-power

“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?

This week’s column for 24HRS Vancouver: Snowden did citizens a service leaking surveillance secrets

jul22duelThe winner of last week’s duel on Canadian oil transportation was Laila Yuile with 64%.

This week’s topic:

Is Edward Snowden a whistleblower who deserves asylum in Russia or a traitor who should be tried and convicted in the U.S.?

Last year on my blog, I posted a transcript from a talk given by retired MP David Kilgour at a Rotary club in Ottawa. The title of his talk was Whistleblowers and Public Service Governance, which detailed the experiences of four Canadians whose stories demonstrated how the government would bully, harass, and discredit those who came forward to expose government malfeasance.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

The same is true for our American neighbours. Whistleblowers have historically been discredited, maligned and harassed by the very government they served. Both Daniel Ellsberg, with the Pentagon Papers in 1971, and, more recently, U.S. Army Pte. Bradley Manning, showed the world that contrary to popular thought, truth isn’t free – for some it comes with a cost that bankrupts both tangible assets and spirit alike….

Read the rest of this weeks column here: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/07/21/snowden-did-citizens-a-service-leaking-surveillance-secrets

And don’t forget, you have 48hrs to comment and all this week to register your vote!

This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Right to privacy should stay strong in face of acts of terror

Summer is here, the days are long and after taking a break from the column due to the Canada Day weekend, Brent and I are back at it today with another look at Canada’s secret surveillance program.

The question this week? Does foiling an alleged terror plot in Victoria justify Canada’s secret surveillance program?

When the RCMP recently announced it would be holding a press conference about terrorism charges related to foiling an allege plot, I called a friend in the media for his opinion. He said we would see vague details from the RCMP with a lot of back-patting, followed by a press conference from the premier in which she would try to capitalize on it, politically speaking.

Turns out he was absolutely correct. The reports that followed were high on loaded terminology, drama and three words that instantly create fear in the minds of many — “al-Qaida ideology.”

Read Brent Stafford’s column

We know that the RCMP were deeply involved in this investigation as early as February as investigators monitored the activity of the Surrey-based suspects. Police say there was no international terrorist group connection, nor was much of a motive or cause presented. At no time was there ever a risk to the public — something the RCMP made clear during its press conference.

What RCMP didn’t make clear, however, was what initially triggered this investigation. We know it was the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that tipped off RCMP, but how did the suspects land on their radar? Was it a call by neighbours hearing about a Jihad discussed loudly in the street? Did someone report them after seeing potentially radical posts on Internet discussion forums? Or was it secret surveillance of our national security teams at work monitoring metadata?

Metadata collection is not as benign as some would have you believe. While it will not reveal the content of your phone call, it can reveal incoming and outgoing numbers, locations, IP addresses, relationships with other people, and even medical and health information. Harmless information? Hardly — and Canada’s privacy commissioner agrees it’s debatable that the information gleaned should be exempt from privacy laws….

Read the rest of this weeks column, at this link http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/07/08/right-to-privacy-should-stay-strong-in-face-of-acts-of-terror  Don’t forget to vote and or leave your comments before the commenting period closes in 48 hours.

If you’d like to see what today’s edition looks like on paper, click here and flip to page 4 http://eedition.vancouver.24hrs.ca/epaper/viewer.aspx

I’ll have another post for you tomorrow to catch up on a few news items that haven’t received the attention they should have!! See you then!

The Duel July 8th

** some links to info on Canada’s program



an excerpt  from that link:  “The government has tried to downplay the public concern by focusing on two safeguards. First, it argues that its secret metadata surveillance program only targets foreign communications. Second, it notes that the data captured is metadata rather than content and therefore does not raise significant privacy issues. 

Neither response should provide Canadians concerned for their privacy with much comfort. Indeed, the emphasis on these two issues highlights how Canadian surveillance laws have failed to keep pace with current surveillance technologies.

The suggestion that Canadians are not affected by surveillance targeting foreign communications does not stand up to even mild scrutiny. The same claims are made by other intelligence agencies, with each claiming that they limit surveillance to foreign targets. However, information sharing between intelligence services is common, providing a backdoor mechanism to access information.”



This weeks post for 24 Hrs, The Duel: National Security does not trump our right to privacy.

sneakingThe winner of last week’s duel on the Senate was Brent Stafford with 51%.

This week’s topic:

Should the government be allowed to spy on your phone calls and email?

As I watched the public reaction following the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden, I shook my head at the ongoing naivety of the public in general. According to Snowden, the U.S government has been engaged in gathering massive amounts of metadata from phone calls and the Internet. He claims this has been going on for years and subsequent media reports seem to back up his claims.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Facebook, Google, social media chat sites, and private cell phone calls are all on the list of places the U.S. government can and will access information in the name of intelligence and national security. Of course, they have claimed this is only in instances involving foreign communications – which may very well apply to Canadians as well. Got a friend in Lebanon? Hey, they might have your aunty’s recipe for kebbeh.

This American scandal has initiated numerous questions on the issue as it pertains to the Canadian government. Does the Canadian government spy on its own citizens? According to a recent Globe and Mail report, the answer is yes. Should they be allowed to? My answer is an absolute no, without prior and ongoing threat assessment documentation available to support such surveillance.

The Globe and Mail report claimed defence minister Peter MacKay renewed in 2011 a prior agreement to conduct the same sort of surveillance that the American government does. It also reported the program had been on hiatus prior to that renewal because of concerns of surveillance of Canadians without a warrant

Time for a reality check…

Read the rest of this weeks column, and vote for who you think is this weeks winner, at http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/06/16/national-security-does-not-trump-our-right-to-privacy

I encourage you to leave your comments and critiques, which are open for 48 hours following publication!!

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: 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.

“Whistle Blowers and Public Service Governance” – A talk by the Hon.David Kilgour.

I am very lucky that many of my friends and colleagues are truth tellers, and we give each other support- along with those whose stories we tell – knowing full well the ramifications that come with doing so.

Truth does not always come without a cost,personal or professional.

However, these men and women have not not allowed themselves to be bullied, nor silenced, nor do many Canadians know their incredible stories.

This is a phenomenal piece,  detailing four Canadian lesser known heroes and how the Canadian government shafted each of them in an effort to silence the truth they bravely came forward to tell.

Originally posted at : http://www.ansleyandcompany.com/WHISTLE__BLOWERS_AND_CANADA_with_photos.pdf , reprinted here with permission of Clive Ansley, Ansley and Company.


Hon.David Kilgour


Hunt Club Golf course clubhouse

16 July 2012


Canada has witnessed no shortage of major corruption scandals; the following come readily to mind:

􀁸Tainted Blood, in which about 60,000 Canadians were infected with hepatitis C, some of them fatally.

 􀁸The Gun Registry, in which a program with a budget of $2 million spent $1 billion without authorization or adequate reporting of cost overruns to Parliament.

 􀁸The Sponsorship Scandal, in which millions of dollars of public money were diverted illegally to government-favoured advertising agencies.

Other advanced democracies have adopted whistleblower protection partly as an anticorruption strategy. The U.S. is the pioneer in the field, and took the first steps more than 30 years ago. The UK has had effective legislation in place for more than a decade, which covers its entire workforce. This includes a tribunal system that has processed more than 7,000 whistleblower cases.

 The history of such legislation in Canada is one of foot-dragging by politicians and officials alike. Successive governments have promised whistleblower protection for years. We still have no legislation that works effectively and no agency that reliably protects public servants at any level of government, or in the private sector, or in any part of the country. In terms of protecting conscientious and courageous employees from reprisals, Canada is still largely a wasteland.

 Westminster Governance

Our Westminster system of government itself has a serious structural flaw in terms of modern best democratic practices. With the fused executive and legislative branches, our Executive Democracy encourages legislators to defer excessively to party leaders, whether prime ministers, premiers or opposition leaders. In turn, public servants in both national and provincial capitals answer to deputy ministers, not to the general public good or taxpayers.

 This institutional and cultural reality is a major reason why, among related governance problems, there has been so little development of effective whistleblower legislation across our country.

 Four National Heroes

 Joanna Gualtieri

As a property specialist in the Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade starting in1992, lawyer Gualtieri exposed gross waste and extravagance in the procurement of accommodation for some of our diplomats abroad. In Tokyo, for example, government owned residences valued up to $18 million sat vacant while large sums were spent renting other accommodation senior diplomats preferred. She also discovered that luxury living in violation of Treasury Board policy was the norm in the Americas. Rather than correct the policy breaches, managers retaliated, harassing her and eventually forcing her out of her job in 1995. Both times she attempted to return to her job, she faced the same hostile environment and refusal to allow her to do her work. In 1998, she left the department for good.

Despite acknowledgement in internal documents that her case had merit, the ministry publicly asserted that nothing wrong had been done. When Gualtieri sued, Justice Department lawyers used a range of tactics to drag out her suit for 12 years, forcing her, for example, to answer more than 10,500 pre-trial questions. The strategy was clearly to ruin her with massive legal bills and break her spirit.

  In the end, the government settled, virtually at the court house in early 2010, thus avoiding a public trial which would have exposed incompetence and waste. Gualtieri now has her life back, although she was harmed from the loss of almost twenty tears in an unequal legal battle seeking to make an example of her as to what happens to public servants who fail to tow the management line.

As part of the settlement, she is today subject to a gag order, preventing her from speaking about the misfeasance she put her career on the line to expose.


Brian McAdam

A career immigration officer, McAdam learned in 1991 that our immigration office in Hong Kong might have been penetrated by organized crime, allowing criminals to immigrate to Canada. His exposure of corruption, missing blank visas, fake embassy stamps, reports about organized criminals known as Triads, penetration of top-secret files in the computer system, inappropriate gifts to staff, and revelations about Chinese party-state espionage activities were poorly investigated.

 Rather than correct serious problems, senior managers instead turned on McAdam,  eventually forcing him out of his 30 year government service. As well, they stalled, blocked and undermined subsequent inquiries into his allegations. Much evidence he provided to a joint RCMP-CSIS investigation was destroyed; CSIS top management shredded ‘Sidewinder’,the report confirming his concerns in 1997. The government ignored an Auditor General report corroborating McAdam’s concerns about the computer system, a serious rebuke by the RCMP Review Committee, other agencies intelligence reports, and one of the largest espionage probes ever done in the U.S.

 Zabia Chamberlain

In 2007 and 2008, Chamberlain, a manager at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, experienced repeated sexual and aggressive harassment at the hands of the executive to whom she reported and an excessive workload from managers above him. Instead of disciplining the harasser and moving her, senior management opted to close ranks and deploy the familiar tools, “deny, delay, devalue and discriminate”, breaching workplace human rights and safety policies.

Chamberlain’s doctors diagnosed severe post-traumatic injury and requested that she be relocated to a new organization and position. This was refused despite her strong 20-year job performance. A number of officials from her department and Treasury Board even asked her to remit an assault-form and sign a declaration that the harasser was a “third party”, although he remains today in his position. Chamberlain brought her case to adjudication in the spring of 2009, asked for reassignment help and tried on her own to look for other positions. Her time before the Public Service Labour Relations Board will soon total 35 days without any resolution on the horizon (She is in hearing today).

 She has lost her two-decade career; yet the perpetrators of the harassment, breaches and stalling remain, highly-paid, in their public service jobs.

Sean Bruyea

In 2005, former Air Force intelligence officer Bruyea realized there were serious flaws in a new proposal for injured soldiers. It would end the comprehensive life-long benefits provided to injured veterans and replace them with a one-time lump sum payment of much lower value.

Not personally affected, Bruyea nonetheless became an outspoken critic. He also advocated the creation of a veterans’ ombudsman. Veterans Affairs Dept. officials attempted to punish him by seeking to cut off treatment and benefits while distributing in briefing notes distorted interpretations of his medical condition to persons who had no clear need to know.

 Bruyea had suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological and physical injuries as a result of his service in the 1991 Gulf war. The briefing notes were given in their entirety or formed the basis of briefings given to cabinet ministers, staff in the prime minister’s office, a parliamentary secretary, his Member of Parliament as well as to dozens of the most senior managers within Veterans Affairs Canada.The notes and associated briefings falsely suggested that Bruyea was mentally unstable.

 Bruyea has now received more than 20,000 pages of documents through Privacy Act requests, which were held by more than 400 departmental officials. The Department’s own internal review determined that out of the 614 officials who accessed his computer based files, 54 “did not have a valid reason for access[ing]” those files.

 The notoriety of the violations resulted in the Harper government issuing Bruyea, on October 26, 2010, one of only two official apologies given to Canadian individuals in more than twenty years. The Veterans Affairs media relations director has confirmed that not a single official involved appears to have been formally disciplined.


These and many other cases share similar features: hostility towards honest employees whose work threatened to expose shoddy conduct; workplace reprisals; justice long denied by legal and procedural stratagems ; and oceans of tax dollars spent protecting alleged wrongdoers and pursuing truth tellers.

 The House of Commons should give priority to improving the governance of our national public service. A logical first step would be to draw on the experience of countries such as the U.S. and U.K. to enact effective whistle blower legislation without further delay.

The complicated and costly whistle-blower system created by the Accountability Act has been a complete failure. Whistle-blowers are being persecuted just as fiercely under the Harper government as they were in the past. The Conservative promise to protect truth-tellers now looks like a cynical election campaign ploy. In order to show good faith, the government should immediately stop stalling on whistle-blower cases that are before the courts, and take steps now to strengthen this country’s whistleblower protection legislation.

 A recent media release by FAIR, the whistleblower NGO, (FAIR Media Release, 29 June 2012)) noted that the Government whistleblower watchdog has failed to deliver after five years.  “After five years of bureaucratic charades, taxpayers have essentially nothing to show for more than 30 million dollars spent on the Integrity Commissioner’s office and the associated Tribunal,” said David Hutton, executive director of FAIR. “Not a single wrongdoer has been sanctioned and not a single whistleblower has been protected. It is time for a root and branch reform of this law.”

 The new Integrity Commissioner Mario Dion has to date uncovered only one case of wrongdoing out of more than 320 complaints submitted over the past five years. The government has also failed to initiate the five-year review of the Whistleblower Act as legally required.

The time for white horses and transparency promised in 2006 in the cause of better public service governance is long overdue.

 Thank you.