Sunday, March 30, 2008
This line of thought could lead to bad things in China domestically and in China's foreign policy. It would discredit the "Western" human rights doctrine in China and tend to make China confrontational rather than cooperative in international relations.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Today, I extend heartfelt greetings to my Chinese brothers and sisters round the world, particularly to those in the People's Republic of China. In the light of the recent developments in Tibet, I would like to share with you my thoughts concerning relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples, and to make a personal appeal to you all.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of life in the recent tragic events in Tibet. I am aware that some Chinese have also died. I feel for the victims and their families and pray for them. The recent unrest has clearly demonstrated the gravity of the situation in Tibet and the urgent need to seek a peaceful and mutually beneficial solution through dialogue. Even at this juncture I have expressed my willingness to the Chinese authorities to work together to bring about peace and stability.
Chinese brothers and sisters, I assure you I have no desire to seek Tibet's separation. Nor do I have any wish to drive a wedge between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. On the contrary my commitment has always been to find a genuine solution to the problem of Tibet that ensures the long-term interests of both Chinese and Tibetans. My primary concern, as I have repeated time and again, is to ensure the survival of the Tibetan people's distinctive culture, language and identity. As a simple monk who strives to live his daily life according to Buddhist precepts, I assure you of the sincerity of my motivation.
I have appealed to the leadership of the PRC to clearly understand my position and work to resolve these problems by "seeking truth from facts." I urge the Chinese leadership to exercise wisdom and to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the Tibetan people. I also appeal to them to make sincere efforts to contribute to the stability and harmony of the PRC and avoid creating rifts between the nationalities. The state media's portrayal of the recent events in Tibet, using deceit and distorted images, could sow the seeds of racial tension with unpredictable long-term consequences. This is of grave concern to me. Similarly, despite my repeated support for the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese authorities, with the intention of creating rift between the Chinese people and myself, assert that I am trying to sabotage the games. I am encouraged, however, that several Chinese intellectuals and scholars have also expressed their strong concern about the Chinese leadership's actions and the potential for adverse long-term consequences, particularly on relations among different nationalities.
Since ancient times, Tibetan and Chinese peoples have lived as neighbors. In the two thousand year-old recorded history of our peoples, we have at times developed friendly relations, even entering into matrimonial alliances, while at other times we fought each other. However, since Buddhism flourished in China first before it arrived in Tibet from India, we Tibetans have historically accorded the Chinese people the respect and affection due to elder Dharma brothers and sisters. This is something well known to members of the Chinese community living outside China, some of whom have attended my Buddhist lectures, as well as pilgrims from mainland China, whom I have had the privilege to meet. I take heart from these meetings and feel they may contribute to a better understanding between our two peoples.
The twentieth century witnessed enormous changes in many parts of the world and Tibet, too, was caught up in this turbulence. Soon after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the People's Liberation Army entered Tibet finally resulting in the 17-Point Agreement concluded between China and Tibet in May 1951. When I was in Beijing in 1954-55, attending the National People's Congress, I had the opportunity to meet and develop a personal friendship with many senior leaders, including Chairman Mao himself. In fact, Chairman Mao gave me advice on numerous issues, as well as personal assurances with regard to the future of Tibet. Encouraged by these assurances, and inspired by the dedication of many of China's revolutionary leaders of the time, I returned to Tibet full of confidence and optimism. Some Tibetan members of the Communist Party also had such a hope. After my return to Lhasa, I made every possible effort to seek genuine autonomy for Tibet within the family of the People's Republic of China (PRC). I believed that this would best serve the long-term interests of both the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
Unfortunately, tensions, which began to escalate in Tibet from around 1956, eventually led to the peaceful uprising of March 10, 1959, in Lhasa and my eventual escape into exile. Although many positive developments have taken place in Tibet under the PRC's rule, these developments, as the previous Panchen Lama pointed out in January 1989, were overshadowed by immense suffering and extensive destruction. Tibetans were compelled to live in a state of constant fear, while the Chinese government remained suspicious of them. However, instead of cultivating enmity towards the Chinese leaders responsible for the ruthless suppression of the Tibetan people, I prayed for them to become friends, which I expressed in the following lines in a prayer I composed in 1960, a year after I arrived in India: "May they attain the wisdom eye discerning right and wrong, And may they abide in the glory of friendship and love." Many Tibetans, school children among them, recite these lines in their daily prayers.
In 1974, following serious discussions with my Kashag (cabinet), as well as the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the then Assembly of the Tibetan People's Deputies, we decided to find a Middle Way that would seek not to separate Tibet from China, but would facilitate the peaceful development of Tibet. Although we had no contact at the time with the PRC - which was in the midst of the Cultural Revolution - we had already recognized that sooner or later, we would have to resolve the question of Tibet through negotiations. We also acknowledged that, at least with regard to modernization and economic development, it would greatly benefit Tibet if it remained within the PRC. Although Tibet has a rich and ancient cultural heritage, it is materially undeveloped.
Situated on the roof of the world, Tibet is the source of many of Asia's major rivers, therefore, protection of the environment on the Tibetan plateau is of supreme importance. Since our utmost concern is to safeguard Tibetan Buddhist culture - rooted as it is in the values of universal compassion - as well as the Tibetan language and the unique Tibetan identity, we have worked whole-heartedly towards achieving meaningful self-rule for all Tibetans. The PRC's constitution provides the right for nationalities such as the Tibetans to do this.
In 1979, the then Chinese paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping assured my personal emissary that "except for the independence of Tibet, all other questions can be negotiated." Since we had already formulated our approach to seeking a solution to the Tibetan issue within the constitution of the PRC, we found ourselves well placed to respond to this new opportunity. My representatives met many times with officials of the PRC. Since renewing our contacts in 2002, we have had six rounds of talks. However, on the fundamental issue, there has been no concrete result at all. Nevertheless, as I have declared many times, I remain firmly committed to the Middle Way approach and reiterate here my willingness to continue to pursue the process of dialogue.
This year the Chinese people are proudly and eagerly awaiting the opening of the Olympic Games. I have, from the start, supported Beijing's being awarded the opportunity to host the Games. My position remains unchanged.
China has the world's largest population, a long history and an extremely rich civilization. Today, due to her impressive economic progress, she is emerging as a great power. This is certainly to be welcomed. But China also needs to earn the respect and esteem of the global community through the establishment of an open and harmonious society based on the principles of transparency, freedom, and the rule of law. For example, to this day victims of the Tiananmen Square tragedy that adversely affected the lives of so many Chinese citizens have received neither just redress nor any official response. Similarly, when thousands of ordinary Chinese in rural areas suffer injustice at the hands of exploitative and corrupt local officials, their legitimate complaints are either ignored or met with aggression. I express these concerns both as a fellow human being and as someone who is prepared to consider himself a member of the large family that is the People's Republic of China. In this respect, I appreciate and support President Hu Jintao's policy of creating a "harmonious society", but this can only arise on the basis of mutual trust and an atmosphere of freedom, including freedom of speech and the rule of law. I strongly believe that if these values are embraced, many important problems relating to minority nationalities can be resolved, such as the issue of Tibet, as well as Eastern Turkistan, and Inner Mongolia, where the native people now constitute only 20% of a total population of 24 million.
I had hoped President Hu Jintao's recent statement that the stability and safety of Tibet concerns the stability and safety of the country might herald the dawning of a new era for the resolution of the problem of Tibet. It is unfortunate that despite my sincere efforts not to separate Tibet from China, the leaders of the PRC continue to accuse me of being a "separatist". Similarly, when Tibetans in Lhasa and many other areas spontaneously protested to express their deep-rooted resentment, the Chinese authorities immediately accused me of having orchestrated their demonstrations. I have called for a thorough investigation by a respected body to look into this allegation.
Chinese brothers and sisters - wherever you may be - with deep concern I appeal to you to help dispel the misunderstandings between our two communities. Moreover, I appeal to you to help us find a peaceful, lasting solution to the problem of Tibet through dialogue in the spirit of understanding and accommodation.
With my prayers,
March 28, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Comment: They must have got the address labels on those crates mixed up.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008, 12:37 PM PDT
WASHINGTON (AP) President Bush told Chinese President Hu Jintao that a "mistake had been made" in shipment of nuclear missile fuses to Taiwan.
Thursday, March 27, 2008, 12:17 PM PDT
WASHINGTON (AP) Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered an inventory of all nuclear weapon and related material in the wake of mistaken shipment to Taiwan.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
2. We support the Dalai Lama¡'s appeal for peace, and hope that the ethnic conflict can be dealt with according to the principles of goodwill, peace, and non-violence. We condemn any violent act against innocent people, strongly urge the Chinese government to stop the violent suppression, and appeal to the Tibetan people likewise not to engage in violent activities.
3. The Chinese government claims that "there is sufficient evidence to prove this incident was organized, premeditated, and meticulously orchestrated by the Dalai clique." We hope that the government will show proof of this. In order to change the international community's negative view and distrustful attitude, we also suggest that the government invite the United Nation's Commission on Human Rights to carry out an independent investigation of the evidence, the course of the incident, the number of casualties, etc.
4. In our opinion, such Cultural-Revolution-like language as "the Dalai Lama is a jackal in Buddhist monk's robes and an evil spirit with a human face and the heart of a beast" used by the Chinese Communist Party leadership in the Tibet Autonomous Region is of no help in easing the situation, nor is it beneficial to the Chinese government's image. As the Chinese government is committed to integrating into the international community, we maintain that it should display a style of governing that conforms to the standards of modern civilization.
5. We note that on the very day when the violence erupted in Lhasa (March 14), the leaders of the Tibet Autonomous Region declared that "there is sufficient evidence to prove this incident was organized, premeditated, and meticulously orchestrated by the Dalai clique." This shows that the authorities in Tibet knew in advance that the riot would occur, yet did nothing effective to prevent the incident from happening or escalating. If there was a dereliction of duty, a serious investigation must be carried out to determine this and deal with it accordingly.
6. If in the end it cannot be proved that this was an organized, premeditated, and meticulously orchestrated event but was instead a "popular revolt" triggered by events, then the authorities should pursue those responsible for inciting the popular revolt and concocting false information to deceive the Central Government and the people; they should also seriously reflect on what can be learned from this event so as to avoid taking the same course in the future.
7. We strongly demand that the authorities not subject every Tibetan to political investigation or revenge. The trials of those who have been arrested must be carried out according to judicial procedures that are open, just, and transparent so as to ensure that all parties are satisfied.
8. We urge the Chinese government to allow credible national and international media to go into Tibetan areas to conduct independent interviews and news reports. In our view, the current news blockade cannot gain credit with the Chinese people or the international community, and is harmful to the credibility of the Chinese government. If the government grasps the true situation, it need not fear challenges. Only by adopting an open attitude can we turn around the international community's distrust of our government.
9. We appeal to the Chinese people and overseas Chinese to be calm and tolerant, and to reflect deeply on what is happening. Adopting a posture of aggressive nationalism will only invite antipathy from the international community and harm China's international image.
10. The disturbances in Tibet in the 1980s were limited to Lhasa, whereas this time they have spread to many Tibetan areas. This deterioration indicates that there are serious mistakes in the work that has been done with regard to Tibet. The relevant government departments must conscientiously reflect upon this matter, examine their failures, and fundamentally change the failed nationality policies.
11. In order to prevent similar incidents from happening in future, the government must abide by the freedom of religious belief and the freedom of speech explicitly enshrined in the Chinese Constitution, thereby allowing the Tibetan people fully to express their grievances and hopes, and permitting citizens of all nationalities freely to criticize and make suggestions regarding the government¡¯s nationality policies.
12. We hold that we must eliminate animosity and bring about national reconciliation, not continue to increase divisions between nationalities. A country that wishes to avoid the partition of its territory must first avoid divisions among its nationalities. Therefore, we appeal to the leaders of our country to hold direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama. We hope that the Chinese and Tibetan people will do away with the misunderstandings between them, develop their interactions with each other, and achieve unity. Government departments as much as popular organizations and religious figures should make great efforts toward this goal.
Wang Lixiong (Beijing, Writer)
Liu Xiaobo (Beijing, Freelance Writer)
Zhang Zuhua (Beijing, scholar of constitutionalism)
Sha Yexin (Shanghai, writer, Chinese Muslim)
Yu Haocheng (Beijing, jurist)
Ding Zilin (Beijing, professor)
Jiang Peikun (Beijing, professor)
Yu Jie (Beijing, writer)
Sun Wenguang (Shangdong, professor)
Ran Yunfei (Sichuan, editor, Tujia nationality)
Pu Zhiqiang (Beijing, lawyer)
Teng Biao (Beijing, Layer and scholar)
Liao Yiwu ()Sichuan, writer)
Wang Qisheng (Beijing, scholar)
Zhang Xianling (Beijing, engineer)
Xu Jue (Beijing, research fellow)
Li Jun (Gansu, photographer)
Gao Yu (Beijing, journalist)
Wang Debang (Beijing, freelance writer)
Zhao Dagong (Shenzhen, freelance writer)
Jiang Danwen (Shanghai, writer)
Liu Yi (Gansu, painter)
Xu Hui (Beijing, writer)
Wang Tiancheng (Beijing, scholar)
Wen Kejian (Hangzhou, freelance)
Li Hai (Beijing, freelance writer)
Tian Yongde (Inner Mongolia, folk human rights activists)
Zan Aizong (Hangzhou, journalist)
Liu Yiming (Hubei, freelance writer)
Liu Di (Beijing, freelance writer)
Thursday, March 20, 2008
March 20, 2008 (3:15 p.m. EDT)
CANADA CALLS FOR DIALOGUE ON TIBET
The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement regarding the situation in Tibet:
“Our government continues to be concerned by ongoing reports regarding the Government of China's treatment of Tibetan protestors. We have expressed our concerns in this regard to the Chinese Ambassador and, through the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, to the Chinese government.
“I once again call on China to respect the right to protest peacefully. The most constructive option at the present time, I believe, would be for the Government of China to enter into direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his designated representatives. Such dialogue may ensure an already tense situation does not deteriorate into further violence.”
- 30 -
LONDON - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wednesday that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has said he is prepared to hold discussions on Tibet with the Dalai Lama.
Brown said he spoke with Wen early Wednesday to call for restraint after violent protests marking the biggest challenge to Chinese rule in Tibet in almost two decades.
"I made it absolutely clear that there had to be an end to violence in Tibet," Brown told a lawmaker in the House of Commons.
"The premier told me that, subject to two things the Dalai Lama has already said ¡ª that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he refrains from violence ¡ª that he would be prepared to enter a dialogue with the Dalai Lama," Brown said.
Brown said he would meet Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader during his visit to London in May.
New China News Agency:
BEIJING -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his British counterpart Gordon Brown talked over the phone on Wednesday, with both sides pledging to boost bilateral ties.
Wen said that the Sino-British relationship has entered a new phase of development and China is willing to work with Britain to maintain high-level contact between the two countries.
With various mechanisms of bilateral communication, the two countries could improve mutual understanding, enhance mutual trust, expand cooperation and push forward the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides, the Chinese premier said.
Brown said Britain has dedicated great efforts to the development of ties with China and is ready to strengthen cooperation with China in a wide range of areas.
The British prime minister also said he believed the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be a success and he himself will come to Beijing for the event.
During the phone conversation, Wen also briefed Brown about the recent riot in China's Tibet and reiterated the stance of the Chinese government on the issue.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
"The Dalai is a wolf in monk's robes, a devil with a human face but the heart of a beast. We are now engaged in a fierce blood-and-fire battle with the Dalai clique, a life-and-death battle between us and the enemy."
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Excerpt from March 12 Address by Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Bernier to Asian Heads of Mission Meeting
For almost 40 years, Canada has maintained a One China policy.
We recognize the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legitimate government of China. This remains the core of our China policy. It guides our bilateral relationship with the PRC. It informs our position on Tibet. And it provides a framework that supports peace and security in the Taiwan Strait.
Under this framework, we oppose unilateral actions by either side aimed at changing Taiwan’s status. In our view, differences should be resolved by peaceful dialogue between the parties concerned.
We welcome the development of democracy on the island of Taiwan. But we are concerned that the substance of the March 22 referendum on joining the UN in the name of Taiwan needlessly escalates tensions across the Strait.
Canada opposes the referendum because it will not, in our view, contribute to peace and security in the region, nor will it be of any help to Taiwan or its people.http://w01.international.gc.ca/minpub/Publication.aspx?isRedirect=True&publication_id=385946&Mode=print
Xinhua New Agency Report: "China Applauds Canadian FM's Speech on Canada-China Relations" http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-03/16/content_7801954.htm
The Globe and Mail quoted my response to this speech in a report by Campbell Clark entitled "Canada subtly signalling change of policy toward China" published March 18 . It can be found at: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcfd6fxz_401cvzwd4d4
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Mr. Chris Warkentin (Peace River, CPC): Mr. Speaker, earlier this week we heard of hundreds on monks in Tibet who were staging peaceful protests demanding improved treatment and religious freedom. They are asking for human rights. Yet we have heard that these protests have been met with force, monks have been detained and monasteries have been surrounded by Chinese troops.
Canadians enjoy the right to demonstrate peacefully and to practise religion freely.
Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs provide the House with what the government's reaction is to this news out of Tibet ?
Hon. Maxime Bernier (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, Canada has one-China policy. We have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet . We have consistently urged China to respect freedom or expression, freedom of association, freedom of religion for all Tibetans.
These latest developments in Tibet are very troubling for us and for Canadians. We urge China to respect the right of Tibetans to peaceful protests and to take steps to improve the human rights situation in Tibet .
Comment: I think that the friendly question from a fellow Conservative did not require the observation that "Canada has a one-China policy." The answer is quite complete without that. The Minister was presumably fully prepared to answer the question, so the comment was purposive. When we established diplomatic relations with the PRC in October 1970 the formula was that Canada recognizes the PRC government as the "sole legal government of China" and "takes note" of China's position that Taiwan is an "inalienable part of the territory" of the PRC. The PRC Foreign Ministry opposes the idea of nations having a policy of "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan." But the language "one-China policy" originates with the PRC authorities, not with Canada. So it would suggest that M. Bernier is suggesting a subtle but meaningful change in Conservative Government rhetoric on China that would be very well received by the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa. It would suggest that Canada supports Chinese Government claims to legitimate sovereignty over Taiwan and over Tibet. There are likely different views within the Conservative Party as to the necessity for such a clear and unambiguous statement of concurrence with the Chinese Government's strong desire that Canada affirm that "Canada has a one-China policy." Many Canadians of Taiwanese, Tibetan and Uighur origin will not be supportive of this statement by our Foreign Minister in the House.
Canada-China Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue.Report Adopted by The Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights on March 11, 2008
Meeting No. 3
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met in camera at 1:05 p.m. this day, in Room 253-D, Centre Block, the Chair, Scott Reid, presiding.
Members of the Subcommittee present: Hon. Irwin Cotler, Hon. Jason Kenney, Wayne Marston, Scott Reid, Mario Silva, Caroline St-Hilaire and David Sweet.
In attendance: Library of Parliament: Robert Dufresne, Analyst; Marcus Pistor, Analyst.
Pursuant to the motion adopted by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, November 13, 2007 and the motion adopted by the Subcommittee, March 6, 2008, the Subcommittee commenced its study on Canada-China Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue.
It was agreed, --- That the evidence and documentation received by the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in relation to its study of the Canada-China Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue during the First Session of the 39th Parliament, be taken into consideration by the Subcommittee in this session.
It was agreed, --- That the Subcommittee adopt the report entitled: Canada-China Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue.
It was agreed, ---That the Chair of the Subcommittee present the report to the Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development asking that it be adopted as soon as possible by the Committee and tabled in the House before this summer's Olympic Games in China, while the international community has the most leverage.
Full text of these minutes can be found at:
Transcript of Evidence of the Subcommittee's previous meeting of March 4 which discusses this matter (and mentions my name) can be found at http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteePublication.aspx?SourceId=230843&Lang=1&PARLSES=392&JNT=0&COM=13463
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Rough Translation of Statement by President Hu Jintao on Mobilizing Overseas Chinese to Serve China's Rise Reported on March 7 CCTV News Broadcast
CPC Central Committee General Secretary and State President and Central Military Commission Chairman Hu Jintao today called on the members of the Zhi Gong Party and the members of the China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese appointed to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee and engaged in a group discussion with them. The Committee members spoke out enthusiastically offering positive suggestions for national policy. After listening attentively to the suggestions of Lin Zhaoshu, Li Zhuobin, Lin Mingjiang, Wu Chengye, and 7 other members, Hu said that it is important to bring the 17th Communist Party Congress magnificent blueprint into reality. It is necessary to accelerate the process of comprehensive construction of a well-off society. We must continue to emancipate our minds, seek truth from facts, advance with the times, seize the hour and work together, working hard and with determination, to further strengthen the great unity of the sons and daughter of China both at home and abroad . We must make the hearts of overseas Chinese cohere together, consolidating overseas Chinese wisdom, fully exploiting overseas Chinese power, safeguarding overseas Chinese interests, and give full play to the important role of overseas Chinese and returned overseas Chinese in promoting China's modernization, and n promoting the peaceful reunification of the motherland. They have a unique and active role in the dissemination of Chinese culture abroad. And can play a bridging function in the promotion of mutual understanding between the Chinese people and peoples of all countries. They can stand with the whole Chinese nation to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese civilization by to striving together in a concerted effort. Party committees and governments at all levels to must effectively protect the interests of overseas Chinese and returned overseas Chinese and take the fundamental interests of overseas Chinese as the starting point and goal of the overseas Chinese work and sincerely resolve tough issues, and do good things, and do practical things to serve them. Jia Qinglin took part in the visit and discussion.The Chinese original can be found at: http://news.cctv.com/china/20080307/105901.shtml
Comment: I am disturbed by the idea that the Chinese authorities identify Canadians of Chinese origin as overseas members of "the Chinese nation." When Chinese leaders visit Canada, in my opinion too much of their scheduled program in our country is taken up by activities conducted in the Chinese language directed at Canadians of Chinese origin.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Gerry was the first colleague hired by our founding Chair, Bill Hull. It must have been something of an edgy move for Bill to hire a blind person in face of the prevailing values in 1966. Ed Andrew once told me that he had also applied for that job but Gerry had beat him out for it. Gerry received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, having attained earlier degrees from the University of British Columbia and Queen's University (John Meisel frequently asked me about Gerry and spoke of him and his wife Pat with some considerable affection). Throughout his career Gerry published widely on Canadian immigration and refugee policy, a very important subject.
Turns out being blind was not such a barrier to his job performance. I co-taught a graduate course with him in the early-90s. He was an excellent teacher as well as a distinguished scholar. At that time he hired students as readers who would record the seminar readings and student papers and exams onto cassette tapes which Gerry listened to speeded up. He wrote his lecture notes in braille. Later with the advances in technology he got computers that could convert e-mail and digital sources to voice and scanners that would read the books and newspapers in various voices to vary the monotony of having just one machine reader (these voice variations dubbed in the software manual as "bouncing Betty," "frail Frank", etc.). I remember feeling quite moved after I hooked up his first scanner to voice device in his office, a couple of doors down from mine.
Gerry seemed to revel in giving the impression that he could "see." Driving with him he would direct me to the destination ("OK, now turn left at that gas station" --- even if the gas station had in fact been pulled down a couple of years before). He walked with his stick to all his classes and seminars unaided and went home by himself on the bus after class. He took care to switch on the light when he entered his office, although sometimes he forgot to. Our only precaution was not to leave boxes and such like in the hallway for him to trip over unseen. He sometimes had visible bruises cuts in his face from bumps and falls. I found that heart rending, but Gerry was used to this. Of course his functioning in a sighted peoples world was a carefully calculated effortlessness. I felt quite honoured when he asked me to walk him through the Taro Building when our Department was moved there in '91. He counted all his steps and memorized the layout of every seminar room in the place. It was a formidable task. This way he could walk into a room and head straight to the lectern without hesitation or stumbling.
But that is not to say that Gerry was not frank about his blindness. He would joke about students who failed to get his attention in seminar by raising their hands. He did service in advocacy and at senior administrative levels for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. He was assertively insistent that when he was due a gold watch after 25 years of service to Brock that the University take the trouble and expense to get him a braille watch made with the Brock seal on its face like all the others for the sighted.
And he had a beautifully tender side too. Gerry and Pat never had any children of their own, but I once arranged for the 6 year-old daughter of one of our students who was curious to see how people read with braille to meet Gerry in his office. He took a lot of care and kindness with little Chelsea Hughes to answer all her questions and let her touch his braille texts. She came away filled with a child's happiness and wonder. It is a special memory of Gerry that I will carry with me for the rest of my days.
In about 1990, it was the 25th anniversary of our Department and therefore the 25th anniversary of Bill Hull's association with Brock. We arranged for a Departmental dinner to be held at the Queenston Heights Restaurant and for the presentation a gift to Bill. Gerry and I were the Hull 25th Celebration Committee. Turns out that Bill wanted a silver champagne cooler to mark the occasion. So Gerry and I went on a tour of Niagara region china shops in search of this article. I did almost knock over a glass cabinet of expensive china in one of them, Gerry on the other hand did not knock into anything. Eventually we found a silver champagne cooler that Gerry liked the feel of and I liked the look of. So we had Ken Kernaghan draft up a suitable inscription to be engraved on the front on it. Gerry and I took the champagne cooler to Birks for the engraving of Ken's tribute to Bill. Turns out the the Kernaghan text was rather wordy and Birks charges for engraving by the letter. In fact when we came back for it and I was handed the bill, it turned out that the engraving cost about the same as the cooler itself and far exceeded the amount of money Gerry and I had collected from colleagues to cover the cost. But fortunately at the cash desk the sales clerk asked "Will that be on the Brock account, sir?" Quick thinking Gerry responded without missing a beat, "Of course." I signed the chit as illegibly as I could manage. Gerry and I exited Birks with due haste, in good humour, engraved champagne cooler in hand.
I received this comment from John Meisel, Gerry's teacher at Queen's on March 28: What a shock ! I always loved Gerry, as an effervescent, bright man with a huge funny bone. He was, as you can imagine a sparkling student totally resilient and in a perpetual state of triumph over his affliction.
Obituary about Gerry published in the Victoria Times Colonist on March 28 can be found here.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
To: Tom Flanagan
Sent: Saturday, March 1, 2008 10:07:19 AM
Subject: Cadman matter
Let me add my name to the long list of people who are outraged by recent slanderous comments impugning that you did something wrong in an interaction with Chuck Cadman that you may have had in 2005.
Tel. (Shanghai): +86-1316-624-2463
Tel. (Beijing): +86-1316-185-5041
Free call from China: 4007128899, ext. 8992031727
Skype, MSN, Yahoo, Google: cburton001