Sunday, September 17, 2006

Four Aspects that Inform Canada's Relations with China

Canada’s interest in China is to take fullest advantage of the complementarity in our economies to generate wealth for Canada. Secondly, China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and an increasingly important player in global affairs due to its rapidly expanding economic influence throughout the world, so it is in Canada’s interest that China develop into a responsible “nation-citizen” in global affairs. Thirdly, Canadians are concerned about China’s human rights record. These include restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom to participate in non-government organizations, freedom to practise religion and political suppression of ethnic minorities. Fourthly, for some years China has been the primary source of new immigrants to Canada. Chinese is now our third most spoken language. This significant element of the Canadian population generally feels strongly that Canada should be fully engaged with China at all levels as an affirmation of the place of Chinese-Canadians in our national life.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Memory of 9/11 Five Years On

The morning of September 11, 2001 I went to the Logan Airport in Boston to fly back to Canada to make my first class of the term at Brock University that was scheduled for that Tuesday evening. Getting to the departure gate went very smoothly. The security measures were more or less none existent. My host from Harvard University was able to accompany me as far as the terminal gate and waved goodbye as I walked down the ramp to the 'plane. When the captain announced that we would be returning to the terminal and that we should retrieve our luggage and see the ground agent to book another flight, it seemed like a routine travel delay. While standing in line to trade in my ticket, I could see the TV in the airport bar tuned to CNN showing the first 'plane crashing into the World Trade Center in New York City. Shortly thereafter the Logan Airport was closed and we all were ordered to leave. I heaved my bags and took the subway back to Cambridge, Massachusetts where I had been staying. Walking across Harvard Yard on that sunny crisp autumn morning I passed the students chatting and laughing as they headed to their lectures not yet aware of what had happened. I soon after learnt that two of the 'planes that crashed that morning had originated from the Logan Airport. So I realized to my horror that many of the people I had seen a few hours before hustling to their flights that morning were now among the dead. A few days later, the Airport still closed, I returned to St. Catharines via Buffalo on a Greyhound bus.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Unpublished Letter to the Editor of the Toronto Sun Newspaper About Peter Worthington's Column on the Celil Case

Re: Curious Case of Canuck Abroad August 31

Mr. Worthington completely misses the point of the Celil case. Mr. Celil does not, as Worthington asserts, enjoy "dual Chinese and Canadian citizenship." Under China's Nationality Law, dual nationality is not allowed. Chinese citizenship is automatically voided by the acquisition of citizenship of another country. Whether Mr. Celil is guilty of any crimes or not is beside the point. Many Canadians have been convicted of offences in China, most of them connected to drugs or financial fraud, and languish in Chinese prisons. The Canadian Government does not maintain the position that Canadians can violate the laws of China with impunity. But by the Vienna Convention within 48 hours of arrest of a foreign national, the embassy must be informed, information about the basis for the arrest given, access to the accused by the consular officials arranged, and notice of the trial be given so that the accused's embassy can observe the proceedings and protest any miscarriage of justice. There is no question that Mr. Celil is as Canadian as any other Canadian. If these fundamental rights of his Canadian citizenship are denied Mr. Celil, then they can be denied any other Canadian. That is why the imperative principle of Canadian consular access to Huseyincan Celil is so critical.

The rest of Worthington's misinformed racist twaddle about the Celil family and Uyghurs in general is not worthy of response, but his lack of respect for the sanctity of our Canadian citizenship and passport is really beyond the pale.

Charles Burton
St. Catharines