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Over a decade ago, Stephen Harper saw Communist China for what it was, and the Liberals vilified him for it. They should have listened.
Now, the lesson is being learned all over again.
One of the things that have been forgotten in the recent escalation of China’s assaults on Canada is how this is something our country should have been prepared for.
However, thanks to a combination of weakness, naivety, and admiration for Communist dictatorships, Canada is facing a severe crisis that is catching us off guard.
For years, Justin Trudeau talked about his admiration for China, praising its ‘basic dictatorship,’ seeking closer ties, and echoing the comments of his fellow Canadian elites on the importance of Canada getting closer to the communist state.
And where have we ended up?
Canadian citizens currently face execuation in China, Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are being detained under obviously false pretenses, and now our exports are being blocked under obviously made-up “quality concerns.”
Making this so outrageous is that over a decade ago in 2006, then-PM Stephen Harper saw China for what it was.
When Harper took office, he made clear that Canada would stand up for Canadian Values, and would not shy away from criticizing China when warranted.
“I think Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide, and we do that, but I don’t think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values. They don’t want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar,” Harper said.
The Harper government repeatedly brought up the case of Huseyin Celil—a Canadian citizen who was imprisoned in China for advocating for the rights of the Uighur Muslim community. Celil is still imprisoned in China, and now up to a million Uighur Muslims are being held in concentration camps in the Communist State.
Harper praised the Dalai Lama, and championed the cause of Tibet, alongside the importance of religious freedom.
Because of his willingness to speak the truth about China’s government, Harper was snubbed by top Chinese leaders, and when he was finally given a meeting he received what was described by many as a “public dressing-down.”
“Experts,” elites, and many Liberals—prominently including former PM Jean Chretien—attacked the Harper government for criticizing China.
And when the Liberals—following their 2015 win – prepared to take office, government transition documents gave a scathing assessment of Canada’s relationship with China under Harper, as reported by the Vancouver Sun.
“Several China experts and former diplomats criticized Harper for being openly critical of China and especially its dismal human rights record, after he won power in 2006. He famously said he wouldn’t put the “almighty dollar” ahead of principles, and later snubbed China by not attending the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The Tories later reversed their approach, after criticism from the business community and many Chinese Canadians, cooling the criticism and expanding high-level bilateral meetings. But in 2013 relations cooled again after Ottawa allowed a $15.1 billion US purchase of Nexen Inc. by the China National Offshore Oil Corp.—but said any future takeover bids of Canadian assets by state-owned companies wouldn’t be allowed.”
And Chretien talked about how BC was apparently “hurt”:
“Chretien mentioned his numerous meetings with China’s leadership and his Team Canada trade missions while prime minister from 1993 to 2003, and said Canada was once viewed in Beijing as China’s “best friend.”
“Now we’re down the list and it’s terrible for British Columbia because British Columbia is the door to the Pacific for all of the country and, in fact, British Columbia is closer to China than Australia,” he told reporters in Vancouver. “We lost the good position we had.”
And with Justin Trudeau – and his father’s – strong affinity for China (and other Communist regimes), the stage was set for a total repudiation of the approach taken by Harper.
But now, we can see the truth: Harper was right about China from the beginning.
The Trudeau government tried doing the opposite of what Harper did at the beginning.
They sucked up to China.
They sought a trade deal (which would have been a betrayal of Canadian workers).
Repeatedly, they talked about ‘strengthening our relationship with China,’ and sought to distance Canada from the United States at the same time.
Despite all of that, the government is now belatedly recognizing their massive error, and realizing (though they would never admit it) that Harper’s original approach to China was the right one.
Just look at where we are now: The government is now reduced to begging the U.S. to help us with our detained citizens and trade problems.
Chrystia Freeland can’t even get on the phone with her counterpart in China. The government is saying the Western world can’t accept China’s aggressive actions (though the government still refuses to retaliate). And all talk of a trade deal or ‘closer relationship’ is out the window.
So, 13 years after Stephen Harper saw Communist China for what it was and was vilified for it, and after four years of a government obsessed with bowing down to China, we are back to where we started: Realizing that we can’t sell out our values to China for the “almighty dollar.”