Mark Collins – How Convenient: “Ontario minister Michael Chan defends China’s human-rights record”

Further to this June 2015 post,

Spookery in Canada: China, CSIS and…the Ontario Government, Part 2

the Globe and Mail returns to the charge with more excellent reporting:

Ontario minister Michael Chan defends China’s human-rights record

Days after China’s Foreign Minister berated a Canadian reporter for questioning his country’s troubled human-rights record, an Ontario Crown minister defended it.

Michael Chan, the province’s minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade [official webpage here], weighed in on the flap Monday [June 6], arguing in a Chinese-language column that the authoritarian country should also be seen through the perspective of “basic livelihood.”

“The inner meaning of human rights is very broad, but the right to survival and a basic livelihood are important components of human rights,” he tells an unidentified journalist for a blog on the popular Chinese-language website 51.ca and Mr. Chan’s official WeChat page.

Read a translation of the full blog post.

The blog begins with the mention of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s controversial press conference in Ottawa last week with his Canadian counterpart, Stéphane Dion. “[Mr. Wang] touched on the issue of human rights and his response led to commentary from all quarters,” a scribe writes. “A journalist interviewed Michael Chan about this, inviting him to share his views on the matter.”

Rather than asking the same questions about where human rights are now, Mr. Chan suggests it is better to examine how they’ve evolved in the past 40 years. “Chinese society has transformed from being about survival to being about development – and in the areas of economy, education, health care, student exchange, migration, travel and quality of life, these 40 years have brought about 1001 changes.”.

On June 1, Mr. Wang dressed down an iPolitics reporter for asking a question agreed to by a pool of journalists about human rights and Kevin Garratt – a missionary jailed for almost two years on charges of espionage. “Your question is full of prejudice against China and arrogant,” Mr. Wang said. “This is totally unacceptable.”..

Jack Jia, publisher of the Chinese News Group, said that the article doesn’t reflect Canadian values. “[Mr. Chan] doesn’t look at how China paid for today’s development.”

Last June, Mr. Chan was the subject of a Globe and Mail investigation, which revealed that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was concerned the minister had grown too close to the Chinese consulate in Toronto, prompting a senior official to formally caution the province about the minister’s alleged conduct in a 2010 briefing.

The Globe stories also examined Mr. Chan’s performance in various ministerial portfolios, which included lobbying for the controversial Confucius Institute to come to Toronto’s school board, a deal eventually scuppered amid concerns of Chinese government interference with the educational program. His hiring of two staffers known for pro-regime activities was also referenced.

Premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne have dismissed the CSIS concerns as baseless. Mr. Chan has said that The Globe’s reporting on him is “a blend of innuendo and half-suggestions.”

Mr. Chan is suing The Globe for defamation and has asked that queries go through a lawyer. His ministry spokesman and lawyer declined response. The Premier’s office did not respond to questions.

The minister has held court on Chinese affairs before. On another Chinese-language website last year, for example, the minister praised China’s anti-corruption campaign, which some critics view as a way for the leadership to purge its enemies [see “China: Top Dragon Purging Briskly and Broadly“ and “Top Dragon Now More Powerful than Mao?“]…

As for the feds:

New Government’s Stealthy Diplomacy Promoting Sino-Canadian Relations

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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