Harper’s 2012 China Visit

This is a guest column; ‘Mihael Willman’ is the pseudonym for a concerned Canadian – Jeff Goodall

by Mihael Willman

What are you going to give away on your China visit this time, Stephen Harper?

For someone who was so adament that we are not going to ’sell out our principles for the almighty dollar’, it did not take long for you to succumb to pressure from business and the pro-China lobby. Have the Trudeau and Chretien era bureaucrats finally managed to get you to view China in the same light as the Liberal governments did during their years in power?

Are you going to agree to accept many more good Chinese Communist party members as immigrants in 2012 and the coming years? Are you going to help China alleviate its aging population problem by accepting more aged parents and grandparents, thus transferring the cost for their care from Beijing to the Canadian taxpayers and our over-burdened health care system? Provincial governments are complaining about the rising cost of healthcare, particularly with the oldest members of the baby-boom generation already at retirement age. They are seeking ways to lower healthcare costs for their citizens, people who have worked and paid towards the healthcare system. Despite these growing concerns, your government acts as if bringing in thousands of aged Chinese, under the family reunification program, will not add to this burden. Instead of opening the doors further, you might consider a moratorium until such time as national and provincial debt / deficits are brought under control. But that’s probably too much to ask. Buying votes from special interest groups, i.e. recently arrived immigrants, seems to take precedence over the interests of Canadian-born citizens or citizens of many decades standing!

You want to delay payment of the old age security (OAS) for Canadians to age 67, because the fund is unsustainable, yet you accept elderly immigrants who will soon be receiving this very same benefit.  Rather than doing the former, you might consider two other possibilities: not bringing in soon-to-be seniors under any kind of program, whether as independent immigrants or under the family reunification program; and changing regulations so that senior, or soon-to-be senior, immigrants will not qualify for the OAS for at least twenty to twenty-five years after their arrival. Nor should they qualify for supplementary support, because their OAS payments would be lower than that received by the rest of Canadians. Family members who are sponsoring elderly parents or grandparents should be responsible for their life-long support and all healthcare costs. If this means obtaining health insurance, as is required for foreign tourists, so be it. The responsibility for supporting them and paying for their healthcare costs should not fall on the shoulders of Canadian taxpayers.

You have no qualms about risking the potential destruction of our pristine wilderness, to push through a pipeline to fuel the Chinese economic juggernaut. Which natural resources will you be selling or offering the Chinese government on this trip? It, or government-owned companies, already own large portions of the oil-sands, as well as various mines or mining companies. Are you going to be selling off, or permitting the sale of, more such natural resources to Chinese companies for the ’almighty dollar?’ Or are you going to be inviting Chinese companies to invest in Canadian manufacturing companies? We have already seen what happens when American companies have subsidiaries in our country. The moment economic conditions deteriorate, they close down operations and move either back to the U.S., or offshore to other countries. Sometimes this has happened even after they received millions from federal or provincial governments in attempts to preserve their jobs in Canada. Do not expect Chinese companies to be better corporate citizens. Their business record in Africa, for instance, has been less than stellar.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird may be making noises criticizing the lack of human rights in China, but these are really just a smokescreen, an attempt to placate concerned Canadians about our growing relations with communist China. You, Mr. Harper, and your ministers think that a few critical statements by Baird will give the impression that Ottawa is standing up for its principles. However, your stand fools no-one, least of all China’s political leadership. Your eagerness to make trade or economic deals with China means that you won’t allow your concern for human rights, your principles in other words, to get in the way. And the communist Chinese leadership knows it! A few lukewarm promises to improve human rights conditions will be more than enough to allow you to claim that you did your best to make your concerns known.

Regardless, religious followers and dissidents will still be persecuted, and will continue to be persecuted, despite your lukewarm protests on their behalf. Tibet and ethnic Tibetans will continue to suffer under the unjust Chinese occupation. China is a country where the rule of law as we know it, doesn’t exist. Well-connected party officials, or their families, can literally get away with anything, including murder. Some regional party officials have recently been arrested for involvement in child kidnapping and trafficking, often selling stolen children for foreign adoptions. But how many are still busy carrying on this heinous crime, making Western couples, and even some Canadians, unknowing accomplices in their criminal activities?

If this present Harper China policy is an example of ‘not selling out our principles for the almighty dollar’, then God protect us from a Prime Minister and political party prepared to do just that!

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