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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the BBC:

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

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

Li WangYang, 你終於可以去和平

 

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

IT’S TIME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An ” Aha…” moment, if you will.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

The bastardization of the Governor Generals office.

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

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

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

~snip~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on June 6, 2012by

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

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

From the BBC:

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

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

Li WangYang, 你終於可以去和平

China.

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

IT’S TIME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An ” Aha…” moment, if you will.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nexen purchase by CNOOC tainted by insider trading probe: US SEC freezes assets of traders who reaped $13 million ahead of announcement

From Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-29/sec-freezes-trader-assets-in-probe-of-cnooc-s-nexen-purchase.html

“The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission  obtained a court order to freeze assets of traders who allegedly reaped more  than $13 million by trading illegally ahead of Cnooc Ltd.  (883)’s announcement that it would buy Nexen Inc. (NXY)

Hong Kong-based Well Advantage  Limited and other unknown traders stockpiled shares of Nexen based on  confidential information about the deal, the SEC said in a July 27 statement  announcing a complaint filed at federal court in Manhattan. The  court order froze about $38 million in assets, the SEC said.

Nexen’s stock rose more than 50 percent on July 23 after Cnooc, China’s largest  offshore oil and gas explorer, said it would pay $15.1 billion in cash to  acquire the Calgary-based company in the biggest overseas takeover by a Chinese  firm. The price was $27.50 for each common share, a premium of 61 percent to  Nexen’s closing price on July 20, the previous trading day.

“Well Advantage and these other  traders engaged in an all- too-familiar pattern of misusing inside information  to place extremely timely trades and profit handsomely from their illegal acts,” Sanjay Wadhwa, deputy head of the SEC’s market abuse enforcement unit, said in a  statement.

Almost all of the purchases of  Nexen stock occurred during the seven trading days before the acquisition was  announced, and the accounts used for the transactions had little or no history  of buying Nexen shares. Well Advantage’s owner is controlling shareholder of a  Hong Kong-based company that engages in significant business activities with  Cnooc, the SEC said... “

Canada has increasingly become the exception as a government, in allowing Chinese State owned(or connected) companies to lobby our government closely; in allowing Chinese State owned companies to buy vast holdings in our national and natural resources as well as allowing them to buy into telecommunications in Canada, that provide services to our military. Other countries have put the brake on similar deals because of valid concerns with regard to national security and foreign interests becoming involved and gaining power over national resources. Our own law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been crying foul over this for some time, while our federal government continues to ignore all and hold court with the communist Chinese government.

Canada is the exception. You need to ask yourself, why?

The answers might be found below, as I re-post two, timely posts:

Playing with the Dragon: Who looks after Canada’s interest while China outwits our government?

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

One can’t help but think about the Chinese state connection to the Northern Gateway Pipeline…

Updated:  Thanks to Ivana C Justice for this timely news segment from Business News Network, featuring a business person and commentator who has firsthand knowledge of what happens when you sell a company to CNOOC and the Chinese government… and why the Canadian government needs to stop this immediately. This news segment cuts right to the chase of Chinese government policy and why it will never fit in with Canadian business.

http://watch.bnn.ca/#clip727903

Canada, we stand on guard for thee…

Tonight, I have two special items for you, at least special to me because of where they came from, and why.

They both concern Canada. Our country – for some like myself, a birthright, for others a choice to find a better life. There was a time, not that long ago, that I outright admit I took our liberties and freedoms here in this great, amazing land for granted. And why not? This is Canada, after all, where as Pierre Burton once said, you know you are one when you can make love in a canoe…without tipping. Beavers chomping, moose munching and kids playing hockey on frozen ponds… the clichés abound when it comes to Canadians and our country.

I love them all, I really do. But to me, what really makes us Canadian is our endless strength and our convictions. Right now, both are being tested, and sadly, by our own government – a government who many say, and I agree, is selling our country out, putting it at grave risk and forgetting the wonderful people who made this country what it is.

 Our arts are being killed, our scientists muzzled and silenced, our environment mismanaged or sold to foreign interests, our personal rights and freedoms are being eroded every day. Our government seems to have forgotten what country this is, and I think I have become a nationalist(eek) – someone who advocates political independence for our country. I love, and will defend my country, and will do so using my pen and paper… or computer as modern times dictate. 

 We aren’t politically independent in Canada, nor are we in B.C. When you have corporate friends who have great influence over political leaders, when you have foreign governments who are paying for educational supplements here, actively lobbying and shaping policy and impacting government affairs,when you have a prime minister who openly tells his country he will overrule due process to make something wrong, right…. I am telling you we do not have political independence.

The wonderful thing is, there are thousands of others just like me, and we are finding each other, and talking and informing everyone we can.

 One person at a time if need be,and you know something special is happening when a reader,( whom I also consider a new friend), stops on her road trip across Canada to send you a photo, from the Gordie Howe campground in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan because she knows exactly what I will think of it. ( doesn’t get more Canadian than driving across the country in a camper..)

Here is her email from today:

 “Hi Laila,

I just thought I would send these not so great photos to you… the one with Harper quoted re: Dief! What a total joke for Harper to even be quoted for one thing and to call himself a Tory! I grew up thinking the Conservatives knew what they were about due to Diefenbaker but those days are long past and only a few good old boys are trying to call Harper into line…

Anyway…how one man can change a nation so quickly…for the worse!

Keep writing…my husband and I are doing our first trip in a small camper across Canada …and reminiscing about Canada along the way…and hope to be in Ottawa for July 1st and I will be wearing my anti Enbridge T-shirt with my save our salmon hoodie! ”

Best, Barb

Well, the photos were all great, and here is one photo that I think speaks volumes!!The irony is clear and I am sure old Dief would be turning in his grave if he saw this.

 Clearly Harper didn’t learn a hell of a lot from Diefenbaker, now did he? That’s all I am going to say about that. ( I will be featuring more photos from Barb and her hubby’s trip across Canada, since I asked her to continue to send photos to me of things that really stood out for her along the way,things she felt were really Canadian)

The second special item for you comes from Priscilla Judd, whom I met while covering the No Prison for Lumby story. Her heart is good and spirit strong and talent…immense.

Priscilla writes:

 “Life is very much better in Lumby without the fight over a prison but this Federal Government (supported by BC Liberals)  is tearing apart our country – fast. I’ve been busy working lately and writing songs. Anyway, my husband made a video to help me share one of them.I’m sending you my song URL in hopes that first: you like it and second, I’m hoping you will share it.

It’s easy to sing… I have performed it at two protests and it seems to unite people. I hope it goes around in your head and you can remember it if you feel like giving up – I know I do – times are bleak… So let me know how the song works for you – many thanks

in peace

Priscilla”

I opened the link, listened to the song and cried. Yes, it really struck me, the beauty, the truth of that song, and if I had my way this would be our new anthem because it speak to all we hold strong , true and free in Canada.  Yes Priscilla, this works for me just fine!!

 Listen. Reflect. Enjoy. Will you stand beside me, and stand up for British Columbia, for Canada when they need us most? To remain, the true north, strong and FREE.

“O Canada we’ve all agreed to
stand for the true north strong and free
with glowing hearts from sea to sea
we stand on guard for thee

O Canada on Native land
we wash the oil from tar and sand
from pipe to power this darkest hour
from sea to shining sea

But who stands watch for the earth below?
stands for the ice and the melting snow?
who for the land to call our home?
Oh Canada I don’t know

O Canada with fossil soil
we frack the gas and mine the coal
for carbon power this darkest hour
from sea to shining sea

but Who looks out for the prairie sky?
stands for the air so none of us die?
who for wind and the birds that fly?
where the planet goes there go I

O Canada from forest green
we ship the logs and cut the trees
and there for the river that meets the sea
with mud and logging debris

O Canada O Canada
who stands watch from sea to sea?
who for a lost democracy?
who for the true north strong and free?

if not you then let it be me”

Coming up on LailaYuile.com

First, thank you for being so patient with the lack of posts in the last couple of months – I have been incredibly busy dealing with a variety of commitments, some time sensitive, that have taken my attention elsewhere. However, I am happy to report that a couple of new developments are in the works, that I am involved with, both highly important to British Columbians, but neither can be revealed yet… ; )

Coming up this week and next here on the blog, I will have the long-awaited post on corruption in B.C. that many have been looking forward to. I will have more on the China-Harper agenda, where there are serious ramifications for those of us in British Columbia,as well as all Canadians.

In addition, I travelled to Vancouver Island last weekend and met with renowned lawyer, Clive Ansley, who has extensive experience in China and you can look forward to a couple of stories as a result in weeks to come.

Until then, I leave you with this gem, from Bloomberg:

“Data on Canadian Officials Stolen in Attack on Stratfor

By Andrew Mayeda – Jun 11, 2012 1:49 PM PT

1,000 Canadian government officials was stolen in the hacking of a Texas-based intelligence firm in December, according to internal government documents.

Almost 900 federal government workers and 109 provincial government officials were affected when computers owned by Strategic Forecasting Inc. were hacked, according to a memo by the federal Public Safety department obtained by Bloomberg News under Canada’s freedom-of-information law.

The hackers obtained the client list of the company also known as Stratfor, and released personal information such as emails, passwords, home and office addresses and credit-card data, according to the Jan. 9 memo.

Canada is trying to bolster its defenses as countries deploy increasingly advanced technology to disrupt their enemies’ networks and gain access to trade secrets. Some of Canada’s biggest companies, such as Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and Nortel Networks Corp., have been targeted.

Canadian officials have warned in internal documents that cyber attacks pose a greater risk to Canada’s economic prosperity than previously believed, and the country lacks the tools to fight hackers. “

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

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

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

From the BBC:

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

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

Li WangYang, 你終於可以去和平

China.

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

IT’S TIME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An ” Aha…” moment, if you will.

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

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

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

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

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

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