Third and final installment of Playing with the Dragon series coming next week.

At long last, the final installment of  the Playing with the Dragon series is nearly done, effectively creating a trilogy. It is perhaps, the most incendiary of the three posts, and for good reason-it speaks to the reach of the Chinese government in a Canadian arena where it should have no access whatsoever.

As a primer to provide background and context for readers unfamiliar with the series, I am re-posting the prior installments leading up to the new post.

Originally posted here:

Playing with the Dragon:  Who is looking after Canadian interests while China outwits our governments?

“We cannot enter into alliances until we know the designs of our neighbours.” ~ Sun Tzu

It should come as no surprise to anyone, that the script of a 6th century general and military strategist has been converted into a business playbook. Yes, Sun Tzu 孫子, author of The Art of War, was indeed a brilliant strategist and in this day when war is a business and business is war, his words are referred to by many for guidance.

Canadians would do well to take heed, and find a copy to read. Not only will it offer you a deeper understanding of the strategies used by many corporations, it will also help you to understand why the Chinese government is so interested in investing in Canada, if not only for our natural resources.

Indeed,as many news reports show, China seems to have decided – after several years of little to no investment – that Canada is one again a good place to invest. Therein lies the heart of this post.

Are all these new Chinese corporate or state investments and ownership good for Canada ?

Or has China simply played the part of the sleeping dragon for another reason, waiting for our government to become willing again to allow such open and easy access to our resources, our technology and our proximity to the United States? What is the real motive for China’s increasing interest in Canada ?

Although I have followed foreign investment interest in British Columbia for some time, via the Macquarie group in particular, it was Richard Fadden’s remarks in 2011 that really sparked my interest in the potential for foreign influence over domestic governments.

Fadden took an incredible amount of flack from then premier Gordon Campbell, along with several provincial MLA’s and municipal politicians after remarking that in B.C., CSIS was investigating foreign influence over several politicians/ government employees.

Oddly enough, this revelation was considered a racial swipe at the entire Chinese community in B.C.,as if every immigrant were suddenly tarred by the actions of a few associated with foreign governments. In fact, Fadden did not single out China as the only foreign country of influence, and it was clear that this was not a racial issue, but a government influence issue.

This is the full Fadden interview, with reference to his now infamous speech. Please watch in its’ entirety, for a pre-cursor to what comes next.

There you have it.

If anything, I think Fadden was trying to warn Canadians, British Columbians, to wake up and smell the coffee.

Look what has happened in our country – look what may be happening now.

Of course, he became the object of many B.C. politicians wrath and ire for his statements, had to do some damage control, but again, most assumed he was referring specifically to Chinese influence, and perhaps he was, but the interview does not reflect that.

You have to have some background understanding of espionage threats in Canada- most of which are vastly under the radar of average Canadians, but I think he wanted to let those know who might be too friendly with foreign governments, that CSIS was watching.

Others have looked at the American influence on BC politicians, and while I do agree that is occurring, there has been much discussion and attention in the past to China.

That is why, it was with great interest this article popped up on my alerts recently: China trying to politically infiltrate NZ and Australia.

Not because it involved China, but because the article details an alleged leaked intelligence briefing for Australian law enforcement agencies that boldly refers to the Sidewinder Report… a report many assert was killed, debunked and shredded directly because of political pressure.

In fact, in the comments section below this very brief preview of the article online, someone tries very hard to negate the reference and again, debunk Sidewinder as conspiracy, even over ten years after the fact.

When you consider that an ex-envoy who defected from the Chinese consulate in Australia came to Canada with evidence of a Chinese spying program in Australia, stating the Chinese used the same methods in western countries to exert political influence over sensitive issues… this alleged leaked intelligence brief takes on a new significance for Canadians.

Here is that brief preview, the full article is available only with a subscription:

“A leaked intelligence briefing for Australian law enforcement agencies suggests China may have already deeply penetrated Australian and New Zealand political and business circles for espionage purposes.

The document, reprinted in the new Investigate magazine out this week, says the pattern of Chinese “investment” in Australia and New Zealand is following exactly the same lines as it did in Canada, where intelligence agencies discovered Chinese government agents posing as rich investment migrants had bribed and corrupted Canadian politicians and officials.

“Few of you will have heard about the “Sidewinder Report”,” states the briefing paper published in Investigate.

“Allowing it was tabled over a decade ago, after which money, influence and corruption were all brought to bear to have copies shredded, that isn’t surprising. Fortunately a single digital copy survived, so we can still analyze/learn from this in-depth and rather alarming study, which is a very good example of Asian/Triad/Organized crime/long term planning.

“I personally believe a similar scenario exists/is being established in the likes of NZ and Australia, where similar immigration policies are in force. For this reason, I want to give you a detailed breakdown of the report, and you can perhaps reach your own conclusions.

“The report was commissioned in the mid 1990′s codenamed “Sidewinder” and was a joint effort prepared by Canada’s Secret Intelligence Service and the National Security Division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Its mandate was to look at Chinese Triad involvement and integration into Canadian Financial and Governmental sectors.

“The report clearly found that over a period of time many Chinese triads, agents of the Chinese Secret Intelligence Service, and Hong Kong tycoons, had firmly established themselves in Canada and had acquired Canadian nationality.”

The document states that Western governments have relied on official Chinese agencies to “vet” prospective immigrants to Canada, the US, Australia, UK and New Zealand, because local law enforcement has no way of independently verifying the identity or history of migrants.

That’s allowed China to slip its own agents into Western nations under the guise of immigration vetting.

“Canadian and Chinese consular staff were selling visas to members of the Chinese mafia and China’s intelligence service, prices were as high as $100,000 per visa,” says the leaked report.

In return for being approved to live and do business in the West, the migrants were given orders on how they could repay the favour to Chinese intelligence.

“They were instructed to make donations and get involved with political parties. Children studied hard and were directed at Government positions, many becoming well established in the ranks of the Immigration dept.  [Name withheld] was Minister of [Portfolio withheld] during the 90′s. He forged close links which China. “Somehow” he and his cronies are now all millionaires.

“By the year 2000, Chinese people affiliated to Triads owned one-third of downtown Vancouver. China invested over one billion dollars in 2001 to buy Canadian businesses in strategic areas and is also a large stockholder in Canada’s Imperial Bank.  It controls 15 corporations in the country’s technology sector.   By 2002, over 200 Canadian Companies were under the direct control of China’s International Trust & Investment Corporation (CITIC).

“CITIC (Pacific) has many links to major Australian and NZ businesses. The Pengxin Group currently bidding to buy Crafar farms in New Zealand are linked to CITIC. CITIC operates directly under the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It is also the world’s largest private operator of container terminals, having lucrative stakes in 17 ports in Europe alone.”

The full report is in the latest Investigate magazine, but its publication coincides with reports this week that Australian intelligence has vetoed the involvement of communications giant Huawei in Australia’s broadband network, for fears it will help China spy on Australia.

Huawei has already been given approval to take part in New Zealand’s broadband rollout.

The chairman of Huawei was formerly a senior official in the Chinese state intelligence agency, and its founder was formerly a solder in the People’s Liberation Army.

Huawei denies any involvement in espionage, but this week its links with US corporates were also cut over similar fears.”

How interesting, that an intelligence document alleged to have been leaked from an overseas source trusted enough to publish it, would mention Sidewinder after all these years.

Sidewinder, for those of you who may have not have heard of the scandal, was a controversial report worked on and put together by a group of RCMP and CSIS officials in the late 1990′s, that was ultimately suppressed, denied as conjecture and theory rather than fact by the SIRC – the Security Intelligence Review committee – the government agency that oversees CSIS.

All copies and supporting materials were ordered destroyed, however several copies were leaked to various media outlets, as well as  several writers across Canada. A full accounting of the scandal can be found here

From Operation Sidewinder – there are many, many other media reports, this is the most concise, comprehensive article:

“It was Sidewinder that sounded the first alarm bells that China is one of the greatest ongoing threats to Canada’s national security and Canadian industry.

But even after Sidewinder was side swiped by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, intelligence proves that there is no doubt that an active Chinese Intelligence Service has been able to gain influence on vital sectors of the Canadian economy, including real estate, high technology and security. The bottom line is that this unprecedented influence gave China ongoing access to economic, political and some military intelligence in Canada.

Operation Sidewinder met with a fate that silenced ringing alarm bells. Officially entitled Chinese Intelligence Services and Triads Financial Links in Canada, it was buried. Following orders from persons unknown, CSIS watered down Sidewinder’s worrisome conclusions and replaced it with a revised document called, Echo.

CSIS officials maintain that they buried Sidewinder because it relied on nothing more than conspiracy theories—even though heralded the news in August 2003 that some 3,500 Chinese spy companies had been identified operating in Canada and the United States.

While CSIS claimed that conspiracy caused them to go mum, other intelligence sources are saying that political pressure forced CSIS to abandon the Sidewinder report.

Prominent among Sidewinder’s case studies was The Chinese, state-owned China International Trust Investment Company (CITIC), which already has a subsidiary up and running in Canada. CITIC has spent about $500 million to buy a Canadian pulp mill, a petrochemical company, vast real estate and hotels. At the time of the Sidewinder report. CITIC already had connections with one large Canadian corporation.

Add to that portfolio, the Alberta oil sands, ownership of which is currently being contemplated by a state-owned Chinese company and a Toronto-based mine company, Noranda Mines–a deal worth more than $7 billion.


Conspiracy theories were tossed out the window when U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher revealed that the U.S. Bureau of Export Affairs, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the Rand Corporation had identified Li Ka-Shing and Hutchison Whampoa (Li’s primary business) as financing or serving as a conduit for Communist China’s military in order for them to acquire sensitive technologies and other equipment.”

To read what remains of the SideWinder report, you can access it in PDF format here:

At this point, I will mention that two men were, with calculated dedication, targeted with respect to their careers and reputations because of what they knew about SideWinder and because they would not drop it.

Cpl Robert Read, was fired from the RCMP for a ‘lack of loyalty to the government’, after a long legal battle. You can read about his battles, here:

Brian McAdam, a former Canadian diplomat, had his career toppled after discovering the sale of Canadian Visas and government connections to organized crime. You can read his story here:

Read those stories and you can see why I find it so interesting that an alleged leaked intelligence briefing, reported overseas, would candidly refer Sidewinder with clear respect for the information.

In my opinion, it bears re-examination of the past to learn for our future. And yet our government still denies all of the SideWinder report as conspiracy theory, even after ex-CSIS head Jim Judd had declared China the number one concern for espionage in Canada and that the agency spent half its counter espionage budget on dealing with China.

It is no wonder foreign governments mock Canada as the country bumpkin cousin.

Here is a telling( even the cached version is no longer available following the posting of this article)  2011 report from Embassy Magazine, Canada’s foreign policy newspaper, titled : Are Chinese spies getting an easy ride?    It is an absolute eye-opener,  and I recommend you read the entire story, however here is an excerpt:

“Since 2008, there have been at least 57 defendants in US federal prosecutions involving Chinese espionage or efforts to pass classified information, technology or trade secrets to operatives in China, according to a May 7 Associated Press report.

Armed with legal tools, and a sense of urgency fuelled by reports to US Congress citing a paramount risk to American technological superiority, the FBI enthusiastically goes after spies in their midst. One US judge, in the 2010 case of a former B-2 bomber engineer convicted of sending cruise missile technology to the Chinese, said he wanted to send a signal to China to “stop sending your spies here.”

But in Canada, several individuals with expertise in the field argue that a mix of federal agency infighting, insufficient legal frameworks, difficulties with prosecuting espionage cases, and fear of upsetting ongoing investigations has resulted in Canadabeing unable to bring any spies to court in the last few years.

They also say Canada’s “new era” of business-friendly relations with China, recently highlighted by Foreign Minister John Baird’s trip, has led to a hesitation by government to pursue legal action against spies.

Historic warnings

The lack of Chinese espionage prosecutions presents an odd situation for a Conservative government that burst into power carrying ominous messages about Chinese espionage in Canada, and that has recently been hit by a major hacking incident that was traced back to the Chinese embassy.

In 2006, then-foreign minister Peter MacKay told CTV the government was “concerned” that Chinese spies were stealing industrial trade secrets, and said it was something he would raise with the Chinese government.

For years, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have assessed the threat posed by Chinese organized crime and intelligence services on Canadians. There were reports in 2005 suggesting that there were as many as 1,000 Chinese economic spies operating in Canada, for example.

And despite earlier efforts to downplay the threat, CSIS has been trying in the last few years to alert the public. In 2007, CSIS director Jim Judd told a Senate committee that China “pretty much” ranked as the top country sending agents to Canada, with “close” to 50 per cent of all agents in the country.

Most memorably, in June 2010, CSIS director Richard Fadden told the CBC that municipal officials and provincial Cabinet ministers from two provinces were under the influence of foreign governments, and hinted that the Chinese government was one of the culprits.

Chinese-Canadian groups criticized him for inciting needless widespread suspicion, and he subsequently backed off his comments. Yet in another speech, he said that the recent explosion of Canadian technological prowess in the areas of agriculture, aerospace, biotechnology, mining and other sectors makes it a prime target for economic espionage from countries like China. And CSIS’s report to Parliament in June made some similar comments.

This year, the Treasury Board, Department of Finance and Defence Research and Development Canada computers, as well as the computer system of the House of Commons, were hacked and sensitive government information was stolen. Reports said the attack was traceable to the Chinese Embassy as well as computers in Beijing, but the Chinese government denied involvement. “

It brings me back to my headline: Exactly who is looking after Canadian interests while China seemingly outwits our governments?  Is anyone? Who is watching the watchers?

Considering the past and current BC Liberal agenda seems nearly at times entirely dependent on investment and trade with China and other asian countries, who is making sure the political decisions being made are right for British Columbia, and Canada as a whole? Yes, we as a country, and here in B.C. as a province, are banking on trade with China as an economic force to keep the economy strong, but is this happening with our eyes wide shut? I’m not saying bring it all to a grinding halt, I’m saying we as Canadians need to be asking our politicians some serious questions here.

I’m not the only person questioning our politicians motives and agendas, by far.

In this recent Edmonton Journal article, the direct link is made to a large majority of Chinese state control of the Enbridge Pipeline project ( 2014 update, cached version of this article is no longer available either) :

“More recently, the Chinese have turned their attention to securing control of the pipeline infrastructure that would take Canadian bitumen to refineries in China.

Perhaps you thought the Northern Gateway pipeline was solely a project of Canadian pipe-line company Enbridge Inc. Think again.

Enbridge offered a limited group of investors the right to equity ownership in the project in return for financing the National Energy Board regulatory approval process and predevelopment of the project. For $10 million each, these funding participants receive preferred access and toll rates as shippers on the pipeline.

Only six of the funding participants have identified themselves. This means there might be four others, or, perhaps some of the six participants hold more than one partnership right. The six companies are Sinopec, MEG Energy Corp., Nexen Inc., Cenovus Energy, Suncor Energy Marketing Inc., and Total E&P Canada.

With these funding partners, almost all roads lead to Chinese state control.”


All of this raises serious questions about the Harper government’s decision to champion a “rip-it-and-ship-it” export strategy over a value-added strategy for Canadian resources.

It’s not a surprise, nor is it inappropriate, for the Chinese to look after Chinese national interests. That’s why they want the Northern Gateway pipeline.

But the resources in question are not owned by the Chinese or the Americans. They’re not owned by oil companies. They’re owned by the citizens of Canada.

Who, we ask, is looking after the Canadian interest?”

Terry Glavin, goes even further in his recent column in the Ottawa Citizen, (***yet another error 404 in 2014, but here is another for you: ) examining the seeming about-face Harper has taken with respect to policies, regulations and the Northern Gateway project.

His column is an absolute must read from beginning to end, to understand the flips and flops the Conservatives have taken on this, but here is an excerpt:

“Sinopec had barely settled into its director’s chair at Syncrude’s board table when it revealed that it was partnering on Enbridge Inc.’s proposed $6-billion pipeline from the oilsands to awaiting supertankers at Kitimat on the B.C. coast.

Checkmate. Well, that’s odd, you might say. Isn’t this the same pipeline that Harper and Industry Minister Oliver are now calling a project that is vital to Canada’s national interests? Anyone can see how it’s in Beijing’s interests. But Canada’s?

It all depends on what you mean when you talk like that.

Way back in the 1980s, the Security Intelligence Review Committee was urging amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to spell out what Canadians mean when we talk about foreign-power connivings that are “detrimental” to Canada’s national interests. “It is almost wholly subjective: no criteria are provided to offer any standard for determining what is ‘detrimental’,” a SIRC report once pointed out.

The definitions in the CSIS Act still don’t clearly define what “detrimental” means, but unlike Investment Canada, CSIS has muddled through and is properly content to couple Canada’s “national security” with “the security and economic welfare of Canada.” Until late last year, Harper himself was happy to use language just like that whenever he returned to his solemn vow to keep Alberta’s oilsands jobs and investment opportunities in Canada, and not ship bitumen offshore to countries with haywire environmental rules like China. It was a Conservative party pledge in 2006 and 2008 and 2010.

But the rules had got hollowed out, and after Sinopec’s checkmate at the Syncrude table, everything went sideways.

Now, Harper is insisting it’s Enbridge’s Sinopec-backed bitumen-export project that is in Canada’s national interests. It’s positively vital to Canada’s interests and furthermore, it’s something we must all rally around because Canada’s very future depends on it…”

Glavin ends his column with this passage:

“Sinopec has managed to get away with being Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s most reliable sanctions busting ally. It succeeded as the protector of the genocidaire Omar al-Bashir’s regime in Khartoum. It’s still getting away with being the guarantor of the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad’s bottomless bank account in Damascus.

And Sinopec is Canada’s new best friend. We are all sitting ducks.”

Defenceless indeed, when Harper seems to be more than eager to push this pipeline though, gut regulations and allow transactions and buyouts that give the Chinese government tremendous leverage over our land, resources and yes, our governments.

And to be honest, I still don’t know who exactly is looking after Canadians interests – if anyone – while China continues to make strategic acquisitions and takeovers. Our governments seem to be only giving constant applause as they do.

( Also worthy of a read are the comments under the original post )

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)

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


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: