Thursday, January 28, 2010

Finally Some Good News on Rights and Democracy Board of Directors Allegations

Looks like DFAIT will address the deteriorating situation at Rights and Democracy: Le ministre des Affaires étrangères, Lawrence Cannon, a demandé à son sous-ministre adjoint, Gérald Cossette, d'éclaircir la situation à Droits et Démocratie. Il mènera une vérification et fera un rapport au ministre. C'est la première indication que le gouvernement Harper se préoccupe de la crise qui secoue l'organisme fédéral depuis le 8 janvier dernier.

February 2:  Lawrence Cannon is quoted in the Toronto Star today as indicating that "This is an internal matter at an arm's length agency, and I trust that it will be resolved as soon as possible. There is no investigation into this matter"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Preliminary Views on Axworthy Advisory Panel Report on the Canadian Democracy Promotion Agency

Agency ("The Canadian Centre for Advancing Democracy") would have a specific focus on sustainable party development

The 2008 Speech from the Throne made the promise that, "a new non-partisan democracy promotion agency will be established to support the peaceful transition to democracy in repressive countries and help emerging democracies build strong institutions"

The 2007 report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (SCFAID), Advancing Canada’s Role in International Support for Democratic Development, recommendation 15:
"The Parliament of Canada, following consultations with all parties represented in the House of Commons, should consider setting up a centre for multi-party and parliamentary democracy, with a parliamentary mandate."

Relevant Points:
p. 9 "For historic reasons, the Centre should view countries of the Francophonie and Commonwealth, as well the Americas, as priority areas for the Centre to invest in."
p 10 "Rosters of Canadian party activists, able and willing to work overseas should be assembled by the new Centre."
p. 14 "An appropriate mission for the CCAD [Canadian Centre for Advancing Democracy] would be to support the process of democratization by helping to establish or to strengthen pluralistic democratic institutions, particularly political parties, in countries where they are absent or in need of further encouragement and development.  .  . to assist political actors in repressive regimes to participate in the transition to a democratic system."

My initial observation:  I do not see how this Advisory Panel report conceives of what the CCAD would actually do. It is unclear to me how its activities would be distinct from work of The Parliamentary Centre, Rights and Democracy, and CIDA.  I am concerned that it could turn into something of a boondoggle for out of work Party activists and retired Parliamentarians.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Privy Council Governor in Council Appointment seeking candidate for Rights and Democracy President

International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development

The International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development is a Canadian institution with an international mandate to promote, advocate and defend the democratic and human rights set out in the International Bill of Human Rights. In co-operation with civil society and governments in Canada and abroad, the Centre initiates and supports programs to strengthen laws and democratic institutions in developing countries. Although its mandate is global, the Centre focuses its work in a number of core countries.

Retired Senior Chinese Communist Officials on Liu Xiaobo

Four retired Communist Party officials have signed an open letter to China's government calling for a review of the case of jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo.  They are: Hu Jiwei, former editor of the Party newspaper the People's Daily, He Fang, who is an honorary member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Li Pu, a former deputy chief of the official Xinhua News Agency, and Dai Huang, a former Xinhua senior reporter.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

On Hurting Sino-US Ties

The Chinese Government made a statement today to counter the US Secretary of State's call for the Government of China to stop blocking its citizens' access to a wide range of websites. (
BEIJING (AFP) China on Friday said US calls for Internet freedom were "harmful" to bilateral ties, after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticised Chinese censorship of the web.
"We firmly oppose such words and deeds which go against the facts and are harmful to China-US relations," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement posted on his ministry's website.

I do wonder about this aspect of "harmful to China-US relations."  What does this imply?  For example will the Chinese Government try and interfere with trade relations by violating China's WTO commitments?  Will the Chinese Government try and interfere with immigration matters such as withholding exit permission for Chinese students going to the US to study?  Will China cease to cooperate with the US in addressing international crises at the UN Security Council?  What is it about what Mrs. Clinton has said that "goes against the facts"?  Why does China respond to her statement with what are evidently empty menacing threats instead of something concrete and substantial?  I have many questions?  Leaving aside the usual invective, are there any fact-based answers to them?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Commentary on Shortcomings of US China Policy

The Canadian Press has issued an insigntful commentary on shortcomings of President Obama's China policy by AP writer Foster Klug entitled "A year into presidency, Obama has little to show from China outreach".   It says: "During his first year, Obama's administration postponed a meeting with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan monk reviled by Beijing, declined to label China a currency manipulator and was cautious in its criticism of China's human rights record.  Obama's China policy has been designed to gain concessions from a country crucial to solving global crises. Yet the United States has seen little benefit on many of its pressing problems, including nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea and tackling climate change and economic worries."

Friday, January 15, 2010

CTV Interview with Jason Kenney on Canada-China Relations

Chinese police have "lost" Gao Zhisheng???

According to the Agence France Press, the Chinese police who took prominent lawyer Gao Zhisheng into custody have informed Mr. Gao's brother that Mr. Gao is "missing."  This has prompted speculation that Mr.Gao may have died from torture in the course of interrogation.

February 3:  A very distrubing article about this has come out in the New York Times: "Diplomatic entreaties to the Chinese government have been brushed aside. Foreign reporters who ask about his plight have been treated to glib retorts. Ma Zhaoxu, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, compounded the mystery two weeks ago by saying that Mr. Gao “is where he should be.” When prodded again at a regular press briefing last Tuesday, he offered ... See morea smile and said: “Honestly speaking, I don’t know where he is. China has 1.3 billion people and I can’t know all of their whereabouts.”
Legal experts say the disappearance of Mr. Gao, whose case has been championed by American lawmakers, several European leaders and the United Nations, represents a disturbing milestone. Even in the most politicized cases, the Chinese authorities generally claim to be complying with their own criminal procedure laws. Mr. Gao has vanished with no official accounting or legal explanation." 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Report in Le Devoir on R & D Employees' Letter

There is a report in Le Devoir this morning indicating that employees of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development have sent a joint letter to Aurel Braun, Jacques Gauthier and Elliot Tepper demanding their immediate resignation from R & D's Board:

Later: Less detailed report in English on same topic; 

January 13: Fragment from report in today`s Globe and Mail The employees of Rights & Democracy have unanimously demanded the resignation of the board's chair, Aurel Braun, and two vice-chairs, saying they mistreated the organization's president Remy Beauregard in the months before his death.
At the same time, Mr. Beauregard's widow, Suzanne Trepanier, has insisted that Prof. Braun's name be removed from the message of remembrance displayed on the group's website, describing it as "hypocrisy."
Ms. Trepanier said in a letter to Mr. Braun that the way her late husband was treated for the last year of his life made it impossible for her to accept his expressions of regret.
"You don't treat a person like you did with Remy and then praise his qualities after he is dead. This is, to me, hypocrisy," she wrote.
Prof. Braun, who teaches at the University of Toronto, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

January 14: Former Presidents of D&D, Ed Broadbent, Warren Allmand, Jean-Louis Roy et Jean-Paul Hubert write to the PM:
"Quatre anciens présidents de Droits et Démocratie ont apporté leur soutien aux employés en colère. Dans une autre lettre envoyée à Stephen Harper, et dont Le Devoir a obtenu copie, Ed Broadbent, Warren Allmand, Jean-Louis Roy et Jean-Paul Hubert réclament une enquête indépendante. « Cette enquête devrait porter une attention particulière au rôle et aux agissements du conseil d'administration », expliquent-ils, selon le quotidien. « Compte tenu des informations qui nous sont parvenues relativement aux circonstances qui ont entouré le décès de M. Beauregard, nous croyons que le comportement de certains membres du conseil d'administration soulève de sérieuses interrogations qui méritent l'attention du gouvernement », ajoutent-ils."

January 15: "In an interview yesterday, Mr. Braun, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, called the suggestion that board members contributed to Mr. Beauregard's death ludicrous.  . . . He also questioned whether the staff letter made public this week was authentic because it was sent by email and contained only typed names, not signatures. .  .  . Following his death, his widow, Suzanne Trepanier, said she had been told by a coroner that her husband's heart attack was likely linked to the stress he was under.":

January 20: Aurel Braun, Jacques Gauthier, Brad Farquhar, Elliot Tepper, David Matas, Marco Navarro Genie and Michael Van Pelt respond by Op-Ed in National Post: 
But then an article appeared on this in the Winnipeg Free Press ( that says: Payam Akhavan, another Conservative appointee who quit the board earlier this month, said Braun's assertion of the board being stonewalled was "absolutely false."  Akhavan, a McGill University law professor who specializes in human rights, said the real dispute is not over Israel and Gaza - where the agency has virtually no presence - but rather control of Rights and Democracy's day-to-day operations, and a board that was trying to "usurp power" and "micro manage."Akhavan said raising the anti-Israel card is part of a "concerted campaign" by the board to polarize public opinion about the agency.

My comment:  The bottom line is that Braun, Tepper and Gauthier provide no account for why the staff at D&D and Mme Trepanier are SO upset with them.  This does not bode well.

January 21: "Troubled rights agency asked for government help months ago: documents" Winnipeg Free Press

January 25: David Matas issues a rambling commentary that appears to imply that he expects that the resolution of the current crisis can only be through the disbanding of D&D altogether:

January 28: Looks like the situation will be addressed by Ottawa: Le ministre des Affaires étrangères, Lawrence Cannon, a demandé à son sous-ministre adjoint, Gérald Cossette, d'éclaircir la situation à Droits et Démocratie. Il mènera une vérification et fera un rapport au ministre. C'est la première indication que le gouvernement Harper se préoccupe de la crise qui secoue l'organisme fédéral depuis le 8 janvier dernier.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Vaclav Havel Visits Chinese Embassy to Engage on Treatment of Liu Xiaobo

There is a story in the Christian Science Monitor  today with a photo showing Vaclav Havel coming out of semi-seclusion to engage the Chinese Embassy with regard to Liu Xiaobo's imprisonment and appeal of his 11 year sentence:

I recommend this report very highly.

Friday, January 08, 2010

More Debate on My Views on Canada's China Policy

Charles Burton, "Response to Jeremy Paltiel's Article, 'Canada and China: An Agenda for the Twenty-First Century: A Rejoinder to Charles Burton'” Canadian Foreign Policy vol. 15, no. 2, 2009, pp. 118-22 (  Paltiel's article in the same issue ( is a commentary on Burton's report A Reassessment of Canada's Interests in China and Options for Renewal of Canada's China Policy that was released by the Canadian International Council last year (

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Spring Festival Gala 2010 - Ottawa March 8


Spring Festival Gala Concert 2010

Southam Hall, NAC, at 19:30, March 8, 2010

Spring Festival Gala Concert 2010 by China Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra

Canada-China Art Association (CCAA) proudly presents a unique symphonic concert of Chinese Music, performed by Chinese traditional instruments in a full orchestral setting.

The Chinese Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra (CBCO), established in 1957, is the Top Chinese Orchestra with resounding success around the World for more than five decades. The world-class Chinese New Year Concert, performed by CBCO, has become an annual event at the Golden Hall of Vienna since 2003. 

The Spring Festival Gala Concert 2010, is conducted by Pang Ka Pang, Chief-Conductor and Musical Director of CBCO, acknowledged by Chinese Media as one of the 10 Most Influential Cultural Figures in China.

This is the Premiere Concert by CBCO in North America - one concert only in Canada with the highest artistic level of performance. The Gala Concert is designated as the official kick-off of the Celebration of 40th Anniversary of the Canada-China Diplomatic Relations. The Pre-Show Reception, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Official Opening of the Exhibition on the 40 Years of Canada-China Relations (co-sponsored by DFAIT and Chinese Embassy in Canada) is attracting high-profile attendance and special attention of political and diplomatic community at the National Level, as well as the business community, cultural and arts community, academia, private sector alike.

The Program of the Gala Concert features, among others, works of Peng Xiuwen, legendary Chinese composer and former Musical Director of CBCO with over 1000 pieces of musical compositions and orchestral arrangements of Chinese Music, as well as Tan Dun, famous contemporary Chinese composer with astounding achievements in modernising Chinese Music. Close to 100 talented Chinese musicians will fill the Southam Hall of NAC with the sounds of over 30 types of traditional Chinese musical instruments, providing an Unforgettable Musical Experience of Chinese Music to the music-loving audience of the National Capital Region.

For tickets:
NAC: 613-947-7000
Box Office: in person 10am-9pm Mon.-Fri. 53 Elgin Street, Ottawa
Ticketmaster: 613-755-1111

Canada Joins WTO Panel on Chinese Export Restrictions

Canada Joins WTO Panel on Chinese Export Restrictions

(No. 3 - January 5, 2010 - 4:45 p.m. EST) The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced that Canada will participate as a third party in a World Trade Organization panel on China’s export restrictions on certain raw materials. The panel was established at the request of the United States, the European Union and Mexico on December 21, 2009.
“Canada is concerned that China’s export restraints, such as export duties and quotas, are leading to trade distortions in the world market,” said Minister Day. “Such measures have caused uncertainty for Canadian producers. We hope that this WTO challenge will persuade China to end these practices.”
The raw materials at issue are bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorus and zinc.
Canada believes that the Chinese measures are inconsistent with China’s WTO commitments. The measures appear to violate rules on export restraints, as well as the commitment China made when it joined the WTO to not charge export tariffs on most materials.
As a third party, Canada will have the opportunity to present its views to the WTO panel and to make written submissions that will be reflected in the panel report. The Government of Canada will continue to work with industry to ensure Canadian interests are fully taken into account.
At this point, there are 12 other confirmed third-party participants in the WTO panel, namely Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Norway, Chinese Taipei and Turkey.
The timeline for the dispute settlement process, meetings and reports has not yet been finalized.
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For further information, media representatives may contact:
Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade
and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada