Kelly McParland: What will it take for the Liberals to admit that China is dangerous?

Ottawa could speak up about attending the 2022 Beijing Olympics, being hosted by a murderous one-party state, but that would require backbone

Author of the article:Kelly McParland

Publishing date:Feb 16, 2021  

A member of the Chinese navy stands in front of a billboard showing Chinese President Xi Jinping photographed against a backdrop of Hong Kong, at China’s Stonecutters Island naval base in Hong Kong, in a file photo from June 30, 2019. PHOTO BY TYRONE SIU/REUTERS

You have to wonder how often knowledgeable people need to attest that China’s is a dangerous, predatory and untrustworthy government before the fact of it begins to sink in and action is taken.

Yet as warnings go, you don’t get more authoritative or plain-spoken than the one issued by David Vigneault, head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, during an online forum.

“The government of China … is pursuing a strategy for geopolitical advantage on all fronts — economic, technological, political and military — and using all elements of state power to carry out activities that are a direct threat to our national security and sovereignty,” Vigneault said.

Beijing’s hackers attack Canada’s biopharmaceutical and health industries, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, ocean technology and aerospace operations in a relentless effort to steal technology and gather data, he said.

In addition, a project supposedly aimed at tracking down corrupt officials and executives outside its borders is routinely used to threaten and intimidate Chinese critics in Canada, with their relatives back home serving as hostages.

“These activities … cross the line by attempting to undermine our democratic processes or threaten our citizens in a covert and clandestine manner,” said Vigneault.

CSIS has been watching “persistent and sophisticated state-sponsored threat activity” for years, and “we continue to see a rise in the frequency and sophistication of this threat activity.”

Beijing’s hackers attack Canadian industries and operations in a relentless effort to steal technology and gather data, says Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) director David Vigneault, seen waiting to testify before the Senate National Security and Defence Committee in Ottawa on April 10, 2019. PHOTO BY CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

Hard to shrug that off, even for a government as nervous as this one about its leader’s past infatuations with the wondrous potential of China’s one-party state.

Statements as candid as Vigneault’s aren’t a daily occurrence in Ottawa. Federal ministers and mandarins alike prefer to bury bad news in a blanket of evasion, obfuscation and neglect. But the warnings are coming more frequently, and in blunt terms.

In November another Canadian security agency, the Communications Security Establishment, identified China, Russia, Iran and North Korea as the dangerous practitioners of cyber crime, with the potential to break into power supplies or other critical infrastructure.

Richard Fadden, a former CSIS director, warned in 2019 that Canada had to “shed the blinders of the past and see the world and our place in it as it is.”

That means coming to grips with the realities of a hostile and aggressive communist regime with little time for the niceties of diplomacy or international norms. “We are surrounded by three oceans and the U.S. so we don’t really feel threatened when, in a totally globalized world, that is unrealistic. … More than anything, we need a clear-eyed view of the world and our place in it,” said Fadden.

Yet evidence keeps arriving of Ottawa’s languid and leisurely approach. The Trudeau Liberals are content to let a company owned by the Chinese police run Canada’s visa-application centre in Beijing, collecting data on applicants with obvious intelligence value and potential use in strong-arming or blocking applicants eager to leave the country.

As National Post’s Diane Francis has reported, many questions remain about Ottawa’s efforts to co-develop a COVID-19 vaccine with China, only to have Beijing arbitrarily scupper the effort, leaving Canada floundering while China retains rights for the vaccines developed and peddles them elsewhere. So supine is Ottawa’s approach that Canada’s embassy in Beijing felt compelled to apologize when staff ordered T-shirts bearing a hip-hop logo super-sensitive Chinese officials mistook as a reference to the COVID outbreak in Wuhan.

Newly appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau maintains Canada has a clear policy on one of Beijing’s most hideous crimes, “the egregious human rights abuses taking place in Xinjiang.” If so, he better tell two of his top diplomats, who can’t seem to agree. Ambassador to the United Nations Bob Rae told the CBC “there’s no question that there’s aspects of what the Chinese are doing that fits into the definition of genocide in the genocide convention.”

Ambassador to Beijing Dominic Barton isn’t so sure, and doesn’t want to rush into anything. “I haven’t talked to Ambassador Rae about the particular evidence he has on that side,” he said. Despite the flood of evidence condemning the brutal treatment of China’s Uyghur minority, Barton still wants to see more reports.

“We need to have independent people on the ground who can go wherever they want” in Xinjiang and collect more information, he said.

That’s not likely to happen, as a Chinese spokesperson dismissed U.S. accusations of genocide in Xinjiang as “a piece of waste paper.” Garneau says he will nonetheless “continue to call on China to grant unfettered access to Xinjiang” for UN and human rights officials, and “continue to collaborate with its partners and push for an investigation.” Because the UN has been so effective in curbing China’s other excesses, right?

This brings up the matter of the 2022 Winter Olympics to be hosted by Beijing. The Trudeau Liberals are downloading the decision on attending to the Canadian Olympic Committee, which of course is mad keen to go. We went to Sochi didn’t we? Can it get more corrupt?

You can argue forever about whether boycotts work or not, but not awarding the Games to murderous one-party states in the first place is a guaranteed way to prevent them being used to glorify systems that dehumanize their own people. Ottawa could speak up about that, of course, but that would require clarity and backbone, which it lacks. Easier to wait for more reports from the UN.

Kelly McParland: What will it take for the Liberals to admit that China is dangerous? | National Post

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Alberta Pastor arrested for holding Church now faces possible jail time

Feb 16th, 2021

EDMONTON:  The Justice Centre is representing Grace Life Church (Grace Life), a large church near Edmonton and pastor James Coates. The congregants of Grace Life hold strongly to their religious beliefs regarding the necessity of gathering in-person to worship and to minister to each other through fellowship and corporate prayer and worship—even in the face of severe penalties. Alberta Health Services (AHS) has ticketed Pastor Coates (pictured below), taken Grace Life and Pastor Coates to court, and even attempted to completely shut the Church down.

When the Alberta Government first imposed various restrictions on churches and gatherings in the spring of 2020, Grace Life suspended in-person worship gatherings out of consideration for the government and in response to news of a novel virus with unknown severity. However, Grace Life resumed in-person worship gatherings in June of 2020 when it became clear that the Government’s initial dire predictions regarding COVID-19 had been based on over-exaggerated modelling.

Government data and statistics continue to show that advanced age, and especially residing in a nursing home, are the leading risk factors for death from COVID-19, particularly where there are several serious co-morbidities. For the vast majority of the population, COVID-19 is not a serious threat. This is especially so for children, who are statistically at greater risk of dying from the annual flu than from COVID-19.

As a faith community, the congregants of Grace Life Church are concerned about all aspects of each other’s health—spiritual, relational, mental, financial—not merely physical. Even in the summer of 2020, it had become apparent to congregants of Grace Life that government lockdowns cause far more self-imposed harm than the natural harm of COVID-19. Unlike some perhaps, the congregants of Grace Life fear sickness and death much less than government oppression, being isolated from their fellow congregants, and disobeying the God they love and worship.

In a public statement, the church leadership stated, “We believe [people] should responsibly return to their lives. Churches should open, businesses should open, families and friends should come together around meals, and people should begin to exercise their civil liberties again. Otherwise we may not get them back. In fact, some say we are on the cusp of reaching the point of no return. Protect the vulnerable, exercise reasonable precautions, but begin to live your lives again… Living life comes with risks. Every time we get behind the wheel of a car, we are assuming a degree of risk. We accept that risk due to the benefits of driving. Yes, though vastly overblown, there are associated risks with COVID-19, as there are with other infections. Human life, though precious, is fragile. As such, death looms over all of us. That is why we need a message of hope.”

Restrictions imposed in November and December 2020 through the Orders of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, demanded that churches gather at only 15% of building capacity and that all attendees mask and distance from each other. These restrictions severely interfere with the ability of the congregants of Grace Life to manifest their religious beliefs and are a violation of their constitutional rights to freedom of conscience and religion, expression, peaceful assembly and association as protected by section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Regarding the restrictions as unjustified and choosing to obey God over government, the congregants of Grace Life have continued to gather in their regular numbers and worship in freedom without masking and distancing.

Grace Life Church is visible from a busy highway outside Edmonton. With a parking lot full of cars for Sunday service, it is apparent that Grace Life was snitched on. AHS officials began in November to show up and inspect the Church weekly. Each Sunday morning—during the worship service—an AHS inspector, often accompanied by law enforcement, demanded entry to the building, went into the sanctuary, and recorded the number of people present and whether they were masked and distanced. This has occurred almost every Sunday for three months, with no regard to how disturbing the presence of an AHS inspector and law enforcement is to congregants of Grace Life. The congregants of Grace Life regard the weekly invasion of AHS inspectors to be a potential criminal offense, pursuant to section 176(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada, which prohibits the interrupting or disturbing of a religious worship service.

On December 17, 2020, AHS inspector Janine Hanrahan issued an order against Grace Life church (the “December 17 AHS Order”) and publicly posted the Order on the internet, intentionally exposing Grace Life to public contempt. Various AHS inspection reports describe previously normal, healthy activities such as sitting together and learning, playing instruments and singing, and not covering one’s face as illicit and bizarre.

On January 14, 2021, AHS filed a court application to enforce through court order the December 17 AHS order, and to be given the power to throw Pastor Coates in jail if he continued to lead Grace Life in normal worship services. Despite Grace Life noting deficiencies with AHS’ December 17 Order, the Court of Queen’s Bench granted AHS’ application on January 21 and ordered that Grace Life comply with the December 17 AHS Order. Although painfully aware of the potential consequences, Grace Life church congregants and Pastor Coates continue to exercise their constitutional freedoms to gather normally for in-person worship services, deciding to face penalties imposed by the Government rather than violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.

On January 29, AHS issued a Closure Order, purporting to entirely close down Grace Life and prevent any congregants of Grace Life from gathering for in-person worship services at the Church building. Grace Life and Pastor Coates continued to act according to their conscience and beliefs, and gather each Sunday for normal, in-person worship.

On Sunday, February 7, after the morning worship service, two RCMP officers met with Pastor Coates and a few others in his office at the Church. The officers told Pastor Coates that he was under arrest and must agree to stop breaching the CMOH Orders. Pastor Coates explained to the officers that he could not do that because to do so would violate his conscience and prevent him from fulfilling his duty as a minister to lead his congregation in worship. The officers then left.

Grace Life is a church of nearly 400 congregants. Not one has been lost to COVID, but, sadly, a congregant was lost to the Alberta Government lockdown in the first week of February when he died prematurely because he couldn’t get the cancer treatment he needed due to Government restrictions.

Grace Life again gathered for worship on Sunday, February 14 and again an AHS inspector entered the Church and reported the activities of the attendees. RCMP have notified Pastor Coates that they will today, Tuesday, February 16, arrest him again, and bring him before a Justice of the Peace, forcing the court to decide if Pastor Coates will be imprisoned. The Justice Centre will be representing Pastor Coates.

“The congregants of Grace Life refuse to accept the Alberta Government’s dystopian “new normal”. Their first loyalty is to obey their Lord, Jesus Christ, not the Government. They are committed to gathering, as they always have, for in-person worship services. They will challenge this excessive and unlawful government oppression rather than turn their back on their beliefs. They also believe they are lawfully exercising their Charter-protected freedoms and that the Government’s restrictions are not justifiable,” states Justice Centre Lawyer James Kitchen.

“Governments never destroy civil liberties without pointing to a feel-good reason, such as “safety” or “equality”. The very reason certain rights and freedoms are constitutionalized is so that government cannot simply ignore those rights by merely asserting its actions are for a good cause. By continuing to exercise their Charter rights, despite the potentially dramatic consequences, Grace Life and Pastor Coates are bringing democratic accountability to bear on a government that appears indifferent to the societal harms of lockdowns and the dismantling of civil liberties,” concludes Kitchen.

Alberta Pastor arrested for holding Church now faces possible jail time | Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (jccf.ca)

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