Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Prime Minister’s private meetings with China

When CSIS Director Michel Coulombe appeared before the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence earlier this year, his briefing notes raised serious concerns about China targeting Canada’s “government officials and systems.”

Now we have news reports emerging that Justin Trudeau attended a cash-for-access event last May at the Toronto mansion of a Chinese-Canadian executive (‘Trudeau attended fundraiser with Chinese billionaires’; Globe and Mail, Nov. 22). Was our own prime minister one of the government officials the CSIS boss was referring to?

Attendees at the Toronto fundraiser reportedly included citizens of the People’s Republic of China, who by Canadian law cannot donate funds to Canadian political parties. Apparently this sufficiently concerned a senior Liberal Party official that photos from the event were anonymously passed to the press in a plain brown envelope.  

The Prime Minister’s official itinerary for May 19 reads “private meetings.” At the private event, the flag of China was displayed alongside that of Canada, and the guest list included senior officials of Chinese state institutions, Chinese billionaires with serious money to invest, and people involved in an application to establish the Wealth One Bank of Canada, whose purpose is given as “to serve Chinese people (huaren).”

Zhang Bin, a Chinese citizen who facilitated a $1-million donation to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation (including funds to be used to erect a statue of the Prime Minister’s father) was also present.

One consequence of Donald Trump’s election as US president will be more opportunities for China's Communist regime to expand its influence with the Government of Canada. It is very likely that Mr. Trump will enact measures early in his term that will negatively impact Canada’s economy by restricting our access to US markets.  If our economy sputters because of Mr. Trump’s isolationist policy, Ottawa will look hard at other foreign partners to make up for lost growth. Chinese state investment will be waiting, and with their negotiating position much improved thanks to Mr. Trump, Beijing will undoubtedly seek to exact a political price that Canada has until now not been prepared to pay.

What this means is that, to get Chinese state investment, Canada must not “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” (the standard Chinese regime phrase) by standing up for humans rights of people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, ethnic minorities in China and human rights defence lawyers in China, many of whom are in prison on trumped-up charges. They will also want Ottawa to deport back to China any Chinese nationals who are in Canada for political or economic exile, so they can face Chinese justice, no questions asked.

In addition, the Liberals will be pressured to remove the Harper Government’s restrictions on Chinese state investment holding majority control of companies operating in oil and mining sectors. And, of course, this only works for the Chinese state if Ottawa authorizes construction of an oil pipeline to the B.C. coast, where Chinese tankers will access the port facilities.  

It appears our Government is already preparing to accede to Beijing in all these areas.

Public opinion polls indicate that most Canadians want Ottawa to effectively engage the China on human rights concerns, and are opposed to Chinese state control of critical elements of Canada’s economy. (This of course is not reciprocal, as Beijing would never allow comparable Canadian investment in China.) Canadians are also skeptical about Chinese state firms’ compliance with our environmental and labour standards.

So the question is, why are meetings attended by our Prime Minister — where the Chinese flag is displayed, and Justin Trudeau engages in high spirits with senior people associated with the Chinese regime — vaguely listed as “private meetings”?  

Canadians should be given transparency as our leaders ponder an enormously significant political and economic re-orientation to the much more strategically powerful China.  

Free trade with China will be next on the agenda. But on what terms?

Canadians deserve a full and open accounting before our Government signs on any bottom line.

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