Thursday, 22 October 2015 19:50

First Mandarin-Speaking MP Elected in Canada

by Shan Qiao in Toronto 
 
For the first time in Canada’s electoral history a Mandarin-speaking member of Parliament was elected.

Now hailed by the Chinese Mandarin community members as their "true voice”, the Liberal party’s Geng Tan won the Don Valley North riding in Toronto with a solid 51.4 per cent of the vote. He trumped second-place Conservative incumbent Joe Daniel’s 37.8 per cent by more than 6,000 votes.
 
Tan’s win is not only a reflection of the Liberals' landslide victory, but also proof of a momentum generated by the Mandarin community, which has been very supportive of Tan’s campaign. 

Reflecting the community 

Even the defeated incumbent Daniels knows that the Chinese community is divided into three groups – the Mainlanders, Taiwanese and Cantonese – and simply saying, “I represent the Chinese community,” is naive and unconvincing. 

It’s possible to represent one or the other, but not all of them.
 
According to 2011 Statistic Canada reports Don Valley North has more than 12,750 Mandarin speakers, the highest amongst other ethnic languages and outnumbering the Cantonese-speaking population of 9,540 and other Chinese sub-groups that only answered “Chinese” to the question of mother tongue.
 
Beyond this, the riding has a 65 per cent immigrant population and 67 per cent of its constituents are visible minorities. The top occupations are in professional, scientific and technical services, and 67 per cent of residents have a post-secondary education. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“As an immigrant from Mainland China, it is so hard to set foot [in] Canada’s politics.”[/quote]

Tan, an immigrant with a high educational background, is very much a reflection of the average face of the riding. 

“As an immigrant from Mainland China, it is so hard to set foot [in] Canada’s politics,” Tan told supporters at his victory party on election night inside a Chinese fine dining restaurant.
 
“I’m a typical first [generation] skilled immigrant with more than a decade of community experience,” he continued. “I understand newcomers’ needs and I have the responsibility to work for newcomers and all ethnic groups.” 

Ties to Chinese community
 
Born in 1963 in Hunan, a mountainous province where father of Communist China, Mao Zedong, was born, Tan came to Canada as a visa student in 1998. 

He completed his postgraduate and PhD in chemical engineering and applied chemistry at the University of Toronto and then worked as a scientist at Ontario Power Generation. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“I also have [a] responsibility to ask for more benefits for our Chinese community.”[/quote]
 
Tan’s community involvements are closely tied to the Chinese community and his Hunan clan associations. 

During his study at University of Toronto, he served for two terms as president of the school’s Chinese students and scholars association. 

Tan was also the long-term president of the Hunan Fellow Association of Canada, the vice president of The Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations and a founding member of the Council of (Chinese) Newcomer Organizations.

These groups are regular fixtures at significant events held by the Chinese Canadian community to celebrate things like the lunar New Year, Mid Moon Festival and China’s National Day, as well as any organized rally or denouncement against the Tibetan separation. 

Ties to Michael Chan
 
Michael Chan, the Ontario cabinet minister who was once investigated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Services over fears that he was under the influence of China, is a close political ally and mentor to Tan. 

Since Tan’s Liberal candidacy announcement to him winning the seat, Chan has been a regular face during the newly elected MP’s campaign. 

Even just two days before election day, Chan attended a Chinese media event along with Tan and three other federal Liberal candidates from the Greater Toronto Area to blast the federal Conservative government. 

When asked about why he was actively involved in the federal election, Chan said the federal government had been disrespectful toward Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. The Conservatives had made too many funding cuts to Ontario, making it difficult for his government to provide services to residents, he said.

Going beyond his Chinese heritage 

Tan has promised that he will work hard to improve Canada’s relationship with China. 

“I also have [a] responsibility to ask for more benefits for our Chinese community,” he stated during his victory speech.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"[T]he way we vote for our parliamentary representative should go above and beyond ethnicity."[/quote]

But Sheng Xue, a prominent overseas Chinese Canadian writer for the Chinese democracy movement and an independent political commentator, says Tan must go beyond just serving the Chinese community.
 
“As a native Chinese, I’m happy (for Tan’s winning),” said Sheng. “However, in a democratic country such as Canada, the way we vote for our parliamentary representative should go above and beyond ethnicity because looking for rights and benefits should never be based on a candidate’s skin colour and his or her country of origin.” 

Sheng added that while their native country was still under a totalitarian system, it is important for Tan to respect Canada’s system and maintain Canadian values.
 
“I’m not acquainted with Mr. Tan, however, I urge him to act as a Canadian when he represents Canadians.”

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Published in Politics

by Shan Qiao (@dmaomao) in Toronto

An editor's open letter following her firing by a Chinese-language newspaper over the Michael Chan affair has re-opened the conversation among "ethnic" journalists about professional standards and the future of the industry.

In her open letter to the Chinese media, Helen Wang, the former editor-in-chief of the Chinese Canadian Post (pictured left), claims she was fired because she published an article written by columnist Jonathan Fon criticizing Michael Chan.

“Not to mention the legitimacy of Jonathan Fon’s column, the fact [Wang] was fired without any reasoning indicates further evaluation is needed on Chinese media employees’ tough work environment,” Wang writes at the start of the open letter.

The letter continues by arguing that media, as a “social conscience,” should be separated from any government influence and reveal truth. However, the hardship of making a living working in the Chinese media is hard to ignore – some newspaper’s publishers sacrifice their journalistic standards in return for more advertising revenue.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"What I don’t like the most is that my story was always compromised by heavy workload. I tried to be unbiased but at the end of the day, we don’t have enough resources or manpower to do a balanced story." - Min Li, former journalist[/quote]

Wang concludes by expressing her lifelong passion in working as a journalist, and promised to return to Chinese media in the future. Jonathan Fon, on the other hand, assured he would keep freelancing and speak out without being influenced.

Journalists struggle under pressures

Min Li, who used to work at a daily Chinese newspaper based in Scarborough, didn’t hesitate to speak about her frustration working as a reporter for seven years.

“What I don’t like the most is that my story was always compromised by heavy workload. I tried to be unbiased but at the end of the day, we don’t have enough resources or manpower to do a balanced story. It’s not about quality that we are working on. It’s the quantity the editor targets.”

Li adds: “The workload is fixed with two stories a day, at least 800 Chinese characters per story. Nobody cares how thorough or how balanced your story is as long as you submit two stories at the end of the day.”

Several months ago, Li quit the job and became a freelance interpreter. Without a stable bi-weekly paycheque or any medical benefits, she is determined to go in a new direction and build up a professional career she firmly believes in.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]What cost Wang her job at the Chinese Canadian Post was an article Jonathan Fon wrote right after the Globe and Mail published a two-day investigative feature on Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan’s ties with the Chinese government and the fact he was investigated by CSIS, Canada’s spy agency.[/quote]

Li is lucky to be young and single. Jianxin Huang, on the other hand, is a father to two teenage children. He worked as an editor at a newspaper that no longer runs in the community, losing his job after three years.

Huang graduated from university in China with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Between his work experience in China and here after immigrating to Canada, he had been in the newsroom for two decades.

Huang had to enlist the help of Second Career, a program funded by the Ontario government that provides laid-off workers with skills training and helps them find jobs in high-demand occupations.

“I now work as a construction worker, going everywhere in the GTA. It’s very different than the job I had been doing for decades in newsroom, but I’m happy with what I got,” Huang says. Although his workload is quite literally heavier, he admits he earns a higher wage and gets more comprehensive medical and dental benefits, as well as work injury insurance.

What cost Wang her job at the Chinese Canadian Post was an article Jonathan Fon wrote right after the Globe and Mail published a two-day investigative feature on Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan’s ties with the Chinese government and the fact he was investigated by CSIS, Canada’s spy agency.

Fon argued in his column (pictured right) that Chan doesn’t represent the Chinese community, only his constituents. CSIS’s investigation on Chan is about his own integrity and has nothing to do with the Chinese community.

Chan’s office has denied any involvement in Wang’s job termination.

Chan files lawsuit

In the meantime, Chan has already filed a libel suit with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against the Globe and Mail for its two features that suggested his ties to the Chinese government. In the statement of claim, he seeks $4.55 million in general and punitive damages.

“This has been a difficult time for me and my family … Since these stories were published, I have given a great deal of thought to the impact the unfounded allegations against me will have in the immigrant communities of Canada,” the claim says.

In the claim, Chan also indicated that his personal goal “in this litigation is to clear my name and restore my reputation.” He will donate any amount awarded to him by the court to PEN Canada, a writers’ association for freedom of expression, and the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation.

During an interview with Sing Tao Daily, one of the largest Chinese daily newspapers in North America, Chan indicated that he has met with Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner, asking about who pays for his libel-suit fees given the triple identities he has as an MPP, a cabinet minister and a citizen. He said it would take the Integrity Commissioner one month to give a proper guideline.

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Published in Arts & Culture
Friday, 03 July 2015 19:19

Chan and Confucius

by Simon Li in Hong Kong

You've probably never realized that Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan is a highly polarizing figure within the Greater Toronto Area's (GTA) Chinese communities until the Globe and Mail's recent coverage.

That's the case at least for my non-Chinese friends in the city, perhaps because the 64-year-old gentleman's appearance seems rather gentle; not the controversial type. During his eight years in Cabinet, opinions about Chan among Chinese Ontarians have remained sharply divided.
 
Three Little Surprises
 
Three little things have actually surprised me since the Globe ran the story on the only Chinese Canadian in Premier Kathleen Wynne's cabinet. (The minister threatened on the eve of Canada Day to take further legal action against the Globe if the paper does not apologize and immediately retract the story within 72 hours.) 
 
The Confederation of Toronto Chinese-Canadian Organizations, making a similar demand on Canada Day, has just asked the Globe to apologize not only to them but to the Chinese community and Chan. Apologizing to the Chinese community? This sounds like the whole community of Chinese Ontarians are homogenous while sharing a single view on the Globe story.
 
This is the very first thing which surprises me as a scholar of Chinese Canadian history. Time after time, the Chinese-Canadian community is intentionally being misrepresented by some (and hence mistakenly seen by the mainstream society and governments) as a homogeneous group, while it certainly is not. It is much more heterogeneous than one can imagine.
 
[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Even if you don't pay close attention to security matters, you may still have noticed that Canada's spy agency, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has been paying awfully close attention to one country in particular these days: China.[/quote]
 
Although some associations’ names may sound like they are sole spokespeople for Chinese Canadian society, the reality is that there is not a single group that can speak on behalf of the whole Chinese community on the Michael Chan matter or any other issue.
 
Second, while it would not be difficult to hear polarizing views about Chan in the community, a good number of the province's Chinese-language media have strangely selected interviewees from just a particular side since day one -- that is, views that simply side with Chan -- instead of professionally reporting multiple views, including those that are other than pro-Chan's. Why? 
 
The third surprise has to do with the controversy surrounding Chan and Confucius — an unexpected pairing and the focus of this commentary.
 
The Background
 
Even if you don't pay close attention to security matters, you may still have noticed that Canada's spy agency, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has been paying awfully close attention to one country in particular these days: China.

Apart from the Globe's coverage of the CSIS revelations that Chan may have been under the influence of a foreign government and had "unusually close ties to Chinese officials," what catches some community members' attention is actually facet of the paper's reporting.
 
The Globe story suggested that Chan once lobbied for a deal between the Toronto District School Board and the Confucius Institute (CI), named after the ancient Chinese philosopher. This Institute has now been banned from a number of universities and school boards across Canada amid concerns about interfering with academic freedoms. Those which officially cut ties with the Confucius Institute include McMaster University, the University of Manitoba and the University of Sherbrooke.

Let's zoom out a bit here: What are Confucius Institutes? And why would the Liberal minister, as the Globe report disclosed, lobby the controversial Institute to make a deal with Canada's largest school board? 

Many wonder.
 
[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Digging deeper, these are the legitimate questions a journalist should ask. While the Chinese press has also been following the Chan story in the past two weeks, none of these questions have really been put forward to the minister.[/quote]
 
The Chinese government says the Confucius Institutes, the brainchild of Beijing's Ministry of Education, are simply promoting Chinese culture and business ties. However, according to a declassified CSIS brief which was obtained earlier by media under the Access to Information Act, Canada's spy service believes China has enlisted the institutes to advance China's power behind the scenes. The secret intelligence report, portions of which were blacked out, states, "In other words, China wants the world to have positive feelings toward China and things Chinese."

"Soft power" is the keyword here. CSIS warns that Confucius Institutes are not as benign as they pretend to be because they are a part of -- albeit a relatively small part -- of China's strategy of "soft power".
 
Chinese "soft power"

While Chan’s spokesperson replied to the Globe that the minister only “wrote one letter offering his personal support to the TDSB in pursuing a dialogue to establish a Confucius Institute in Toronto,” there is still a puzzling question: Why would then-TDSB chair Chris Bolton actually deem Chan’s support of the establishment of the Confucius Institute in Toronto as crucial?

As Bolton publicly disclosed during last summer's gala to celebrate the CI-TDSB arrangement, "I'd like to take a moment to thank the people who were directly involved in the establishment of the CI. Right from the beginning, an MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament) by the name of Michael Chan has supported the establishment" -- it keeps one wondering: what precise role did the Ontario cabinet minister play in this whole deal involving a CI establishment which the CSIS refers in its report as a calculated part of China's "soft power" campaign?

Another essential question would be: what motivated him to be so "directly involved" (using the ex-TDSB chair's choice of words) in supporting the Beijing-sponsored institute which would be in charge of the curriculum and the hiring of teachers instead of the public-secular school board for Toronto? Chan represents Markham-Unionville, which does not fall under the Toronto school board, and his portfolio in Cabinet has nothing to do with education. 

In the wake of the high-profile CI crisis to date, why did the minister say earlier that he had "not paid attention at all, in terms of the curriculum” during the lobbying process? As a matter of fact, different concerns surrounding these controversial Confucius institutes and their curriculum have been extensively reported in Canada in as early as 2007.
 
Legitimate questions
 
Digging deeper, these are the legitimate questions a journalist should ask. While the Chinese press has also been following the Chan story in the past two weeks, none of these questions have really been put forward to the minister.

So at this point, only Chan knows the true answers.

Confucius too, maybe?  

The Chinese master of enduring wisdom once counselled, "Study the past if you would define the future."  And while our country's spy service believes China has enlisted its ancient politician-philosopher in its quest for power, don't be surprised by the fact the Communist Party of China has never quite been supportive of Confucian ideals (there was even a "Criticize Confucius" campaign in the People's Republic in the mid-1970s).

The past is ironic. 

So is the controversy surrounding the cabinet minister and the Chinese master.  

The clock is ticking. Let's see what happens when Chan’s 72-hour ultimatum expires. 
Simon Li, a former Canadian political journalist, currently teaches political science and investigative journalism in Hong Kong. Before entering an academic career, he was a political host on AM 1540 in Toronto and guest hosted The Current on CBC Radio. He previously researched Canada-China relations and Chinese Canadian history at Queen’s University.
 
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Published in Commentary
Friday, 03 July 2015 01:53

The Yin and Yang of Ties with China

by Ng Weng Hoong in Vancouver

Amid the growing debate over China’s influence in this country, some 200 delegates attended the inaugural Pacific Finance and Trade Summit in Vancouver on June 16 to promote Canada as a trading and clearing hub for the Chinese renminbi (RMB) currency.

News soon filtered in that an Ontario cabinet minister, in promoting increased trade ties with China, had or has been under surveillance for at least five years for being “too close” to Beijing. “Treason” and “espionage” were mentioned in a sensational Globe and Mail story about Michael Chan, a China-born naturalized citizen who has risen within Ontario’s Liberal Party government. But no charges have been laid, and two days after the June 16 story, the Federal Justice Minister punctured the newspaper’s claim that he had confirmed Chan was under investigation.

Nevertheless, given the prevailing anti-China sentiment in Canada’s newsrooms, the centrist Globe found rare support from its right-wing National Post rival. Diane Francis, a noted China critic, added to the Globe’s narrative by stating that Canada could suffer “long-term pain” if its business elite continues to cozy up to Beijing. She also suggested that Chinese migrants are really aiding Beijing’s takeover of Canada’s natural resources and hurting less well-off citizens by inflating real estate prices.

Earlier, in a three-part series on booming Richmond city, the Vancouver Sun’s Douglas Todd reprised some of his criticisms about Chinese migrants: ethnic enclaves, proliferation of Chinese language signs, rising housing unaffordability and weakening community cohesion.

Long suspicious of China, The Tyee, a left-leaning online publication, weighed in with a new critical report on how Prime Minister Stephen Harper sold Canada off to Beijing through the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).

Rarely has the breadth of Canada’s ideological media divide been so united on a single topic: the fear of China and things Chinese.

The curse of interesting times

While both sides have matching economic imperatives -- China needs natural resources and services, Canada needs markets -- domestic politics in both countries along with strained interactions between new Chinese migrants and Canadians are having an unpredictable impact on bilateral relations.

With Canada’s economy veering towards recession amid the prolonged oil-and-gas price collapse, its leaders recognize the need for expanded long-term economic ties with China and Asia to reduce dependence on the U.S.

Among those at the June 16 event were China’s Vancouver-based Consul General Liu Fei, B.C.’s Trade Minister Teresa Wat, Finance Minister Michael De Jong, two of his predecessors, former finance ministers from Alberta and Ontario, as well as representatives from some of the world’s largest banks. Four of those banks are from China, led by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), which has more than US$3 trillion in assets and the role of clearing RMB trades for the Americas.

In over three years as consul general, Liu said she has travelled across B.C. to meet with the mayors and business people of more than 30 cities and towns who are eager to increase trade ties with China.

Despite bilateral trade reaching a record (C$77.43 billion) last year, she said both countries are fulfilling a mere fraction of their export potential. Canada has room to substantially increase export to China’s 1.4 billion people after selling just C$18.8 billion worth of merchandise last year.

Colin Hansen, a former B.C. finance minister who now heads up AdvantageBC, describes the RMB hub as a huge opportunity for Canada to create new business to serve companies throughout the Americas who are planning to or are already doing business with China.

With China globalizing its currency, Hansen said Canada with its strong physical, banking and legal infrastructure and stable political system is well-positioned to succeed as a RMB hub. Vancouver and Toronto have the added strength of their diverse populations, in particular their ready pool of Canadians fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Range of fears

But not everyone wants Canada to become China’s currency booster, or have more Mandarin or Cantonese speakers in the population mix.

Disregarding their country’s gloomy economic outlook, 49 per cent of Canadians recently told the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APFC) they don’t want any investments from China, citing a range of fears from loss of control of strategic assets, to environmental, health, safety, security and labour challenges. Politically, the RMB hub faces a hard sell as Canadians are becoming increasingly negative towards their country’s second largest trade partner.

Canada’s mainstream media have played to the public’s anti-China mood by highlighting Beijing’s territorial bullying of its neighbours, its disastrous environmental record, and human rights abuses. The reports also focus on how new Chinese migrants in Greater Vancouver and Toronto are not integrating well due to their lack of English or French language fluency.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Canada’s mainstream media have played to the public’s anti-China mood by highlighting Beijing’s territorial bullying of its neighbours, its disastrous environmental record, and human rights abuses.[/quote]

Some 64 per cent of Vancouver residents blame Chinese-led foreign buying for causing the city’s rising real estate cost, according to a Angus Reid survey. The media has focused on Chinese buying of expensive high-end homes, but have hardly investigated other causes of Vancouver’s rising housing unaffordability.

Also, less widely reported is Chinese contribution in boosting the economies of many countries around the world, including the revival of Canada’s previously depressed resource towns.

The spread of Chinese influence

Richmond city stands out as the symbol of what’s not to like when Chinese migrants and money become dominant, in particular in the proliferation of Chinese language signs in the downtown core.

“If all they’re bringing in is money, they won’t become a true part of Canada. The new migrants must make an effort to learn English or French,” said Stewart Beck, the APFC’s president and CEO, in an interview.

Canadian suspicions have also been aroused by Beijing’s eagerness to “splash the cash”. In 2012, state-owned China National Oil Corp (CNOOC) paid a very generous 61 per cent premium of more than C$15.1 billion for a medium-sized oil and gas company with little growth prospects.

That record deal for both countries has ended badly for the acquired Nexen Inc., leaving behind a trail of job cuts, broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. With that deal’s failings still unfolding, many wonder if the potential benefits of the RMB hub project could just be as over-stated, and its problems under-rated.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“If all they’re bringing in is money, they won’t become a true part of Canada. The new migrants must make an effort to learn English or French,” said Stewart Beck, the APFC’s president and CEO, in an interview.[/quote]

Missing the big story

Despite his political aversion towards China, Prime Minister Harper signed two major agreements with Beijing last year: FIPA and the RMB hub deal.

There are concerns the RMB hub could be used for remitting “funny money” amid reports that Vancouver is a popular destination for criminals and corrupt officials fleeing China.

However, Jimmy Mitchell, AdvantageBC’s vice president for business development, sees the RMB hub as aiming to promote and facilitate legal and legitimate trade between China and the Americas.

“Given that the RMB hub represents a new channel and a new relationship to handle an unprecedented amount of money, we will focus on building the trust and processes to make it work,” he said.

By promoting the RMB hub and FIPA, Canada will be helping to expand China’s influence in the region. In targeting Chan for allegedly doing Beijing’s bidding, the Globe and Mail has clearly missed the bigger stories.


Ng Weng Hoong is a Vancouver writer who has been covering energy and economic issues in Asia and the Middle East for over three decades.

Published in Commentary

by Shan Qiao (@dmaomao) in Toronto, Ontario

Major Chinese media outlets had Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, in their headlines after the Globe and Mail published a controversial investigative feature on him last Tuesday.

During an interview conducted right after the Globe published the story, Chan told Ming Pao that he has previously read articles about himself published in Chinese media that were similar to the Globe’s piece.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Chan told Sing Tao that the Globe’s intention in publishing the article before a federal election with Chinese candidates running for office is questionable.[/quote]

“I feel confused,” Chan said to Ming Pao. “During many events I have participated [in], I have heard from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I have heard from Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney, I have heard from Senator Victor Oh that Canada needs to develop its relations with China. I am doing this job, yet I was investigated by CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and I was criticized by the newspaper.”

He continued: “Should we develop Canada-China relations? Or should the person who promotes Canada-China relations be investigated? I am waiting for an answer from the Prime Minister.”

Attempt to Discourage Chinese-Canadians from Politics?

Ming Pao also interviewed Geng Tan, who is a federal Liberal candidate in Toronto’s Don Valley North riding, and whom Chan strongly supported. 

Tan blasted the Globe’s report and indicated the story is nothing but mud throwing at the Chinese community. “The report suggests [a] Liberal candidate who has [a] mainland Chinese immigrant background has close ties with the Chinese government. It wants to discourage Chinese immigrants from participating in [Canadian] politics,” he told Ming Pao. He asserted that he would still run for office despite the Globe’s report.

Sing Tao, another major Chinese-language daily newspaper, also published an interview with Chan on its front page. Chan told Sing Tao that he “absolutely has no idea why the Globe would publish something as old as five years ago.” The CSIS briefing on Chan occurred in 2010.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Yang Yundong said the story was unfair and discriminatory to Chan and the Chinese community. He went on to say judging Chan to have lesser loyalties to Canada because he emigrated from China and helps develop the relations between China and Canada is wrong.[/quote]

Chan told Sing Tao that the Globe’s intention in publishing the article before a federal election with Chinese candidates running for office is questionable. He encouraged Chinese-Canadians not to feel fearful and to still take an active role in Canadian politics. They should be more involved in election campaigns and help their candidates, he added.

What Chan said echoes the open letter he put out after the Globe’s report, which stated: “I would like to continue to encourage newer Canadians to consider taking an active role in public life. This is essential for our society to progress. They should not be discouraged by the fear of allegations that the everyday actions of newer Canadians need to be minutely examined to determine if they somehow have lesser loyalties to this country.”

Sing Tao also published a statement made by Yang Yundong, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canada, in its follow-up story the next day. In the statement, Yundong said the story was unfair and discriminatory to Chan and the Chinese community. He went on to say judging Chan to have lesser loyalties to Canada because he emigrated from China and helps develop the relations between China and Canada is wrong.

The statement also said that there are many Canadians living and working in China, such as Dashan (Mark Rowswell), a well-known comedian who rose to fame in the early ’90s. “They use their own way to connect China with Canada and we appreciate them,” the statement concluded.

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Published in China
Wednesday, 17 June 2015 23:16

I'm No Dupe of China, Rebuts Michael Chan

by Ranjit Bhaskar (@ranjit17) in Toronto

Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan has joined issue with the Globe and Mail over its reporting this week suggesting he could be a threat to national security on account of his close ties with China.

In an open letter, the provincial Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade said the articles “are little more than a re-hash of ludicrous allegations published – and debunked – five years ago. Indeed, the Globe & Mail at that time properly called the suggestions 'reckless, foolish and contradictory.'"

The allegations Chan was referring to spring from a CBC interview with former Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) director Richard Fadden aired in 2010. Fadden did not identify anyone in that interview nor did he elaborate on specific concerns. After a backlash from politicians and Chinese-Canadians, Fadden recanted and the controversy subsided.

Persistent Theme

"There is a persistent theme that there is a perceived risk that I am under undue influence and that I am an unwitting dupe of a foreign government," Chan asserted in his open letter today. 

However, following the Globe and Mail articles, federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay said there is an “ongoing investigation” involving Chan. “Clearly there are people outside our country, as inside our country, who would seek to exert influence,” MacKay, who would not comment on specifics of the probe, said.

MacKay’s comments highlight the difference between Ottawa and Queen’s Park over the issue. Premier Kathleen Wynne on Tuesday defended her minister, saying any concerns about Chan were “baseless,” and the federal spy agency’s suspicions lacked substance. “He has my trust.”

“All of those have been addressed. There was nothing of substance that has been brought forward to me,” the Premier said during an unrelated factory tour in Cambridge, Ont. “Michael Chan has done his job with respect and with honour. He has worked incredibly hard for the people of Ontario and he continues to do so.”

Chan first became a cabinet minister eight years ago under former premier Dalton McGuinty and has continued to serve under Wynne.

“On our trade mission together last fall to China, Michael was instrumental in attracting to Ontario almost $1 billion in new investment by Chinese companies, creating 1,800 jobs,” said Wynne. “There are some who may believe that there is something sinister about maintaining deep ties with one’s country of origin, or one’s culture. I believe the opposite and so do millions of Canadians who have immigrated to Canada.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“There are some who may believe that there is something sinister about maintaining deep ties with one’s country of origin, or one’s culture. I believe the opposite and so do millions of Canadians who have immigrated to Canada.” - Wynne[/quote]

Globe reporting

Chan in his letter says the banner headline of the first article on Monday gives the impression that it contains a major revelation, with a  headline in bold type in the print edition stating that it has been alleged that “this Minister” could be a “threat” to Canada.

“Although I have been a minister for eight years, it is probably true that most Ontarians do not know me well. For many, their first impressions of me will be from the headlines in the recent Globe articles. It hurts me that this is the case,” Chan wrote, saying the body of the article contains a blend of innuendo and half-suggestions although “nothing I have done in any way supports any suggestion that I am a possible threat to Canada or to Ontario.”

A second story that followed on Wednesday details his emigration to Canada and his rise to success in business and politics.  Chan, in his open letter, said maintaining deep, meaningful connections with one’s culture, with one’s country of origin, is something millions of Canadians cherish. “I came to this country as a young man. Canada welcomed me. While I am proud of my Chinese heritage, I am a Canadian first and foremost. I owe all the success I have had to this country and, most particularly, to the province of Ontario.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"There is a persistent theme that there is a perceived risk that I am under undue influence and that I am an unwitting dupe of a foreign government." - Chan[/quote]

Chan, a prominent Liberal fundraiser in Chinese circles, said he would like to think that in some small way he has served as an example to all Canadians who may wish to take part in public affairs. He concluded his letter by saying he will continue to encourage newer Canadians to take an active role in public life.

“They should not be discouraged by the fear of allegations that the everyday actions of newer Canadians need to be minutely examined to determine if they somehow have lesser loyalties to this country.”


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Published in Top Stories

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