This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Cops too eager to shoot.

Happy New Year and welcome to the first column of 2015!

This week’s topic: Does law enforcement rely too heavily on the use of deadly force?

Peter de Groot. Du Na Phuong. Naverone Woods. These three men were killed during police interactions during the last months of 2014. In each encounter, officers drew their guns and fired, and in each case criticisms and questions remain if lethal force was necessary.

The concerns relating to the use of lethal force by law enforcement are not unique to B.C., but are multi-jurisdictional across Canada and the U.S. In fairness, in Canada the vast majority of police interactions end peacefully. This is little consolation to the families and friends of people who have been killed by officers. They are people who, in some cases, exhibited signs of mental distress or erratic behaviour. Robert Dziekanski, Ian Bush and Greg Matters are just a few high-profile cases you may remember.

Knowing several current and former members of different law enforcement agencies – most who have never used their guns in all their years of service – shooting or killing someone is not something any officer envisions happening. This doesn’t and shouldn’t preclude examination when use of deadly force results in a fatality.

Preventing any death at the hands of an officer, in particular when dealing with people in mental distress, is something the Toronto Police took action on following the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim on a streetcar in 2013. One officer was charged with second-degree murder, and the police chief called for an independent review of the use of lethal force by officers. In July 2014, former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci released what has been referred to as a landmark report, presenting page upon page of recommendations to prevent the shooting of people in crisis.

Read Brent Stafford’s column here.

This report makes it clear that this is not only an issue of police culture and training – it is a failure of our entire system…


READ the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote here:

***You can read both the Executive Summary and the entire Independent Review of the Toronto Police Service here: for a full look at 80 recommendations made to improve outcomes. A very compelling read.

“Communication leads to community: that is, to mutual understanding, and mutual value.” ~ Rollo May

As  I write this, it is now 11:24 on Friday June 27th, 2014.

I missed the report on Global earlier this evening of an alleged swarming attack at The Grove in Newton, and over the last few hours have talked with other community members, agencies and law enforcement.

It’s correct to say, we are all in shock, and in disbelief. That takes time to process, to be honest.

Let me first say that as an 11 year resident of Newton, first in West Newton, now in East Newton, I have a vested interest. Others who have called Newton home for generations, more so.

Two of my children attended preschool in the building housing the ice rink.  I regularly bus in and out of the Newton bus loop and when I am not in a bus, I am driving by the Newton bus loop to see what is going on. As long time readers know, it’s been a long time source of stories and breaking news.

I think I speak for all of us, everyone, at every level, when I say we are more than ‘done’ with the grief, the stress, the seemingly never-ending incidents that sadly, we are all used to in Newton.

It shouldn’t be this way. And as friend David Dalley said this evening on twitter, we all own a part of this. All of us.

Ironically, I was there in the grove with my two young sons less than an hour from the alleged attack. The boys read the poems on the trees, they played in and out of them and the blue chairs were filled with a group of elderly south Asian men who were engaged in deep conversation. A woman was sitting beside a stroller with her baby sleeping, clearly grateful for the shade of the trees to take a short break on the sidewalk along Coast Capital’s back wall.

David Dalley and others, have done amazing things in this grove of trees that I was vehement in having cut after Julie Paskall’s tragic death. I have seen those changes personally, as have others and let me tell you, it is an awe-inspiring thing.

I was wrong for thinking that cutting the grove would be the solution.

Turns out the trees were the solution. It’s called ‘place-making’ and  it is happening in The Grove.

Now these teens, this has been an issue for years in Newton, at the bus loop and in this mall area. The Safeway manager says as much in the Global story, as will anyone else willing to speak publicly.

That Safeway endures far more than they should have to. Like having to install ultra violet lights in the public bathroom to keep junkies from shooting up inside.( google that) Saw this firsthand a while ago. They are an essential service to many and a good corporate neighbor.

I stopped by their Starbucks (and I hate Starbucks coffee) every morning after dropping off my youngest at the Newton Rec Centre preschool for a year, which has the best trained preschool teacher around town.I actually do support local businesses and many more would if the area was better and that is why so many people are devoting so much time to change in the area.

Newton is awesome… it just keeps getting the short end of the stick.

Which leads me back to this incident, that happened on Wednesday, that the public slowly found out about on the Friday afternoon before what most people are making a long weekend.

Public relations at its bloody best, in my opinion, and more worrisome, indicative of a lack of communication between Surrey RCMP and the public. A number of questions immediately sprung forth, like where were the RCMP patrols at this time? Commissionaires?

City of Surrey have had security guards stationed in the area since Paskalls tragic death. They are wonderful.

Translink security or police was stationed in the area with a car frequently following that incident, but are not often seen at the bus loop.I do know firsthand the chief of Translink police was committed to ensuring Newton bus loop was covered at the last Newton Community Association public forum.

RCMP have had walking patrols, along with city contracted Commissionaires that I have personally only seen in the late afternoon/evenings.

But this incident happened and not only did people allegedly walk by this girl being beaten in the grove, but a Safeway employee came out to deal with it.

David Dalley is right. We do all own a part of this.

911 is free. While a group of teens engaged in a swarming is definitely intimidating, turning your back and “not seeing it” is also not acceptable. And questions remain as to why this situation of known teens who were behind this, were not made known to the locals who are invested in this community, and the public who travel through this area.

Communication between the community and the RCMP is critical.

When any public safety issue arises, the public must be informed. I am confidant the public supports officers on the street and will do their part – if they have the knowledge of public safety issues and crimes that creates both vigilance and ownership.

If we don’t know what is going on, we can’t  be proactive, and proactive solutions are what is need… not reactive.


The RCMP must not be politicized at any time, much less during an election year. Nor must information be withheld from the public except in instances where it might impede an investigation or arrest. When residents begin to question whether or not public relations is trumping public safety information in the press, someone, somewhere, has failed.

Why was the public not informed of ongoing issues many in Newton have known about?

With women and children, seniors and singles, students and everyone else using a major transportation/recreational hub, why wasn’t the public and others in the community informed of this incident several days ago? ”

It is a question only the city and the RCMP can answer, and one Newton residents look forward to hearing the answer.


And the total cost of the new Surrey city hall/civic plaza/ parkade is….. ( drumroll please…) $138 million plus.

Much more than the $97 million dollars borrowed by the city to build the city hall :

What no one from the city has mentioned yet, is that the building cost of the parkade that services the City Hall and Library, was an additional cost of $32 million, as per this bylaw that authorized the city to borrow that money in July of 2010:

In addition, the cost of the Civic Centre plaza is not included in the cost of the city hall, it was set aside as a separate project, and is estimated to be in the range of $9 million dollars, which is said to have been budgeted  for out of regular revenues. It is included in this list of Build Surrey projects, many of which have not been completed, such as the improvments to Newton.

The grand total for the City hall, parkade and civic centre plaza? Not including the new furnishings etc?

Approximately $138 million dollars, most of borrowed, not including carrying costs and interest.

While the city might rely on the partial rental of the old city hall to offset the costs of the new one, what exactly is going to offset the costs of this other loan? Why aren’t these other costs included in the total being presented to the public?

While city staff have justified the build out by stating that it has brought over $3 billion dollars of  investment into the city centre, residents who have been told there is no money for the required amount of RCMP officers the city needs to keep pace with its growth find the amount of money borrowed for this project, staggering.


Things that matter.

The Newton Community Association held a public forum today to follow-up the public meeting from January. Great dialogue from the community and I’ll have more observations on that soon, but tonight I have some writing to do for a deadline, hopefully before my power goes out!

However, often I find the smaller moments at events like this are the ones that really make it all worth it. Moments when guards are dropped and two people just connect for a moment as humans. Today tears, more than a few hugs, funny moments and endearing ones were shared, between and around the timeline and agenda of a public forum. And for each of you who shared those moments, thank you. :) Pushing mountains is hard to do on your own, but together, anything is possible.






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 )

Just when you think you’ve seen it all…

… you see this story:

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


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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of this unbelievable story, at this link..,0

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

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

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

I guess I must have imagined that…

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

“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.

“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:

-the arrest of political activists in China, by State authorities:

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:

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?

A must read on a really, really big mistake. “Oops, we want our missile radar back: Department of National Defence.”

Courtesy of Kevin Diakiw, the Surrey Leader:

Someone walked into a government auction in Surrey four years ago, placed a winning bid of $37 for a piece of radar equipment, took the device and left.

However, according to news reports last Friday, the government never meant to sell the highly sophisticated missile defence mechanism, which was actually worth $29,000.

So the Department of National Defence wanted it back.

The information is being reported by Montreal newspaper La Presse. The news outlet received details through a Freedom of Information request, outlining federal Defence Minister Peter McKay’s reaction to the sale of “controlled” equipment to a civilian in Surrey.

The purchaser’s identity has not been revealed, nor is it known what punishment, if any, he or she faces.

LaPresse is reporting ministry officials found out three years after the auction that the civilian bought the highly prized device and offered to reimburse the the $37 the person paid in exchange for the return of the device.

The buyer refused, so the government upped the ante to $2,000.

When the buyer refused that offer, the government issued a 48-hour order to return the mechanism.

When the purchaser failed to comply, the RCMP was called and the piece of equipment was retrieved, LaPresse reported

And who is in charge of national security again?

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

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

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

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

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

Read Brent Stafford’s column

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

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

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

Read the rest of this weeks column, at this link  Don’t forget to vote and or leave your comments before the commenting period closes in 48 hours.

If you’d like to see what today’s edition looks like on paper, click here and flip to page 4

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

The Duel July 8th

** some links to info on Canada’s program

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

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

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