Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Douglas Todd: Does China's money threaten Canada's sovereignty?

Douglas Todd: Does China's money threaten Canada's sovereignty?


July 2017

Related image
It’s a legendary ski resort perched on top of the mountains above Metro Vancouver, visible to all denizens below.
It’s a treasured spot for outdoor recreation that symbolizes the natural lifestyle of West Coast Canadians. And it’s just been bought for $200 million by a company from China.
The reported purchase of Grouse Mountain Resort is one of many recent sweeping real estate deals in Canada coming out of the authoritarian Communist nation of 1.3 billion people.
In light of China’s buying spree, perhaps it’s little surprise a new Pew Research poll says Canadians, unlike Americans and Latin Americans, now believe the populous East Asian nation is the “most powerful country in the world.”  
What does China want from Canada?
And should Canadians, contrary to their welcoming prime minister, be worried about China’s interest in this land, particularly its urban real estate?
No Canadian region is more impacted by Mainland Chinese capital than Metro Vancouver, a relatively small city of 2.5 million.
The Hurun Report shows wealthy Mainland Chinese consistently rank Metro Vancouver among the top six most popular cities in the world to invest in residential real estate.
In 2015 alone, the National Bank of Canada estimated buyers from China poured $13 billion into Metro Vancouver real estate, one third of the total. Vancouver Sun and Province reporter Sam Cooper follows the flow of such money, a portion of which is illicit and often ignored by Canadian officials.
The large-scale financial speculation from China comes at a time when scholars increasingly maintain foreign investment in real estate is not a productive or healthy form of investment for Canadians, many of whom struggle with unaffordable housing costs.
Meanwhile, Mainland Chinese companies are only just getting started in buying up iconic Canadian “jewels” like Grouse Mountain Resort, according to bankers in Canada and China.
In addition to the sale of B.C. golf courses and marquee hotels, the reported sale of Grouse Mountain Resort comes on the heels of China’s Anbang Insurance spending $1.2 billion on four noted Bentall Towers in downtown Vancouver.
Anbang also poured $90 million into leasing the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, and recently snapped up Vancouver-based Retirement Concepts, one of the province’s largest retirement-home chains.
Anbang comes with no shortage of intrigue. It not only has close ties to the political elite of the People’s Republic of China, in June Chinese authorities detained Anbang’s chairman amid a crackdown on corruption. He’s disappeared.

RELATED

Meanwhile, the purported buyer of Grouse Mountain Resort, China Minsheng Investment Group, also has complex ties to China’s regime.
And that massive company is structured like China Investment Corp., which made a $1.7 billion investment in Vancouver mining company Teck Resources.
These payments have led Dermod Travis, of Integrity B.C., to suggest the government of China is in effect donating to a Canadian political party.

China’s Anbang Insurance spent $1.2 billion on four noted Bentall Towers in downtown Vancouver.

So much for national sovereignty. So much for protecting Canadian politicians from outside money.
I have some respect for what Mainland China has accomplished in two decades — aggressively expanding into the second largest economy in the world, constructing massive infrastructure and confronting grave ecological challenges.  
China is also trying, in a convoluted way, to restrict the money rich Chinese are sneaking out of their country. Beijing is attempting to impose strict limits on how much its multimillionaires can privately invest in foreign real estate.
This, even while China’s human rights abuses are too numerous to mention.
All in all, it’s naive to think China’s interest in Canada is completely harmless.
We should not deny the myriad ways the corporate arms of any superpower, like the U.S., can externally influence a medium power like Canada.
Economic occupation has long been a domination strategy, exemplified in the 20th century by the U.S.’s incursion into Latin America.
While Australia is warning China to keep out of its affairs, it’s not hard to find unsettling examples of what China’s companies have been up to in Canada.
After the federal Liberals agreed to a Chinese company, Hytera, buying Canadian telecommunications giant Norsat International, the Pentagon announced last month it is reviewing all its contracts with Norsat. Hytera has been accused of massive theft of Motorola’s intellectual property.
Meanwhile, in June, China signed an agreement with Canada saying it will stop conducting state-sponsored cyberattacks to steal Canadian private-sector trade secrets.
China’s pledge is strangely limited, though. It only purports to stop the hacking of corporations. It doesn’t stop China from conducting state-sponsored cyberattacks against the Canadian government or military.
Which is what it did in 2014, when Chinese hackers broke into the main computers at the country’s National Research Council.
China’s numerous breaches of Canadian security echo the warnings in an earlier secret report by the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which was buried.
The Sidewinder Project concluded in the late 1990s that “China remains one of the greatest ongoing threats to Canada’s national security and Canadian industry.”
Days after the report was submitted, CSIS ordered all copies destroyed. So were the careers of many integrity-filled government officials.
That’s a lot of smoke over the years.
But Canadians remain largely uninformed, or sanguine. Many are following the lead of Trudeau, who is boldly, baldly pursuing more intimate ties with China’s imperious elite.
Trudeau has made it much easier for foreigners to buy up Canadian real estate and companies, by increasing the threshold at which foreign takeovers will be reviewed — to $1 billion.
Despite a recent Nanos poll showing most Canadians didn’t want to sell our high-tech companies to China, Trudeau’s public-relations efforts have convinced a slight majority of Canadians to support his pursuit of a free-trade agreement with Beijing.
There are pockets of resistance, however.
The federal NDP has called for reducing the threshold amount for foreign takeovers, to protect Canadian jobs and ensure offshore deals benefit most Canadians.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer is opposing a trade deal between China and Canada, citing concerns about human rights, labour standards and state-connected Chinese companies.
Giving China preferential access to the Canadian market “would threaten the jobs of workers and businesses in this country,” said Scheer, saying Trudeau is trying to “appease” China.
It almost sounds as if Canada is preparing to have another debate about sovereignty.
That’s what happened more than two decades ago over the North American Free Trade Agreement, which didn’t exactly lead to average Canadians gaining more control over their futures.
How much does sovereignty count for Canadians, particularly in regards to China’s influence over the residential real estate market; over the basic human need of housing?
How large an opening do Canadians want to give another superpower?

Douglas Todd: Foreign money poses threat to B.C. democracy


July 2016
Australia’s politicians are, in effect, facing censure for acting just like B.C.'s Liberal Party government, which has also accepted millions of dollars in donations from foreign companies.
Premier Christy Clark expects the election campaign will be about the economy and jobs.
The storm over foreign political donations is peaking in Australia.
Australian voters are outraged by recent exposes, including an Australian Broadcast Corporation investigation that revealed China-related companies gave more than $5.5 million to Australian politicians.
Australian voters have become disgusted by the fact they live in one of the few advanced countries in the world that allows foreign companies, without restriction, to donate to its political parties.
Australia’s politicians are, in effect, finally facing censure for acting just like another outlier, the B.C. Liberal Party, which has also taken in millions of dollars from companies based in Europe, the U.S. and Asia.
Independent B.C. MLA Vicki Huntington (Delta South) refers to B.C.’s practice, which is virtually unheard of in the rest of Canada, as “almost like legalized bribery.”
And as “a threat to our sovereignty.”
Given the furore Down Under, leading Australian politicians, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, have this fall pledged to ban foreign political gifts.
Australian indignation has been exacerbated by news that the powerful owner of a China-based real estate company has complained that wealthy Chinese donors aren’t getting the leverage they should with Australian politicians.

Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, pictured earlier this year in the capital of Canberra, has joined other politicians there in pledging to ban foreign political gifts, in the wake of exposes that document how foreign companies, without restriction, donate to the country’s political parties.
Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has joined other politicians there in pledging to ban foreign political gifts. MARK GRAHAM /AFP/GETTY IMAGES FILES

“(They’re) not delivering … We need to learn how to have a more efficient combination between political requests and political donations,” Huang Xiangmo, chairman of the Yuhu Group of developers, wrote in Mandarin in China’s state-run newspaper.
Like others around the globe, Australians have also been reading about the way a bagman for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was caught on video preparing to accept a $2-million donation from undercover British journalists posing as representatives of a Chinese billionaire.
Since the U.S. and most democratic nations, including Canada, have made it illegal to accept donations from foreigners, The Telegraph newspaper’s sting exposed just how craven some Western political figures are: Promising foreign companies special treatment in exchange for their illicit cash.
Despite international pro-democracy agencies warning against foreign political donations, the B.C. Liberals brazenly go their own way in Canada and rake in large donations from scores of companies rooted in China, Malaysia, the U.S., Dubai, Poland and Indonesia.

Foreign donations draw scant attention in B.C.

The issue of foreign political donations draws little public attention on Canada’s West Coast, however.
That’s in contrast to the way Huntington and the NDP’s Gary Holman (Saanich North) and David Eby (Vancouver Point Grey) have been making headway in directing the spotlight onto a related problem: the way the B.C. Liberals permit corporate and union donations.
Although the federal government and most provinces ban corporate and union contributions, the B.C. Liberals in the past decade took in more than $70 million in corporate donations (while the NDP accepted $11 million from unions). More than $12 million was donated to the B.C. Liberals by the real estate sector.

Independent MLA Vicki Huntington has pressed for an end corporate and union donations in B.C., including at the municipal level. ‘You know the donations are made to influence decision-making,’ says the Delta South MLA. ‘You are not respecting voters when you allow foreign companies to shape local political decisions.’
Independent MLA Vicki Huntington has pressed for an end corporate and union donations in B.C., including at the municipal level. ‘You know the donations are made to influence decision-making,’ says the Delta South MLA. ‘You are not respecting voters when you allow foreign companies to shape local political decisions.’ MARK VAN MANEN / PNG FILES

The NDP, the Green Party and Huntington have long been pressing to end corporate and union donations in the province, including at the municipal level, where real-estate developers donate to politicians who make crucial zoning choices.
And Democracy Watch is also asking the courts to toss out a dubious decision that B.C. Conflict of Interest Commissioner Paul Fraser made in the summer, which allows Premier Christy Clark to prop up her salary by $50,000 a year by speaking at private fundraising events.
Clark often sits down for dinner with intimate groups of wealthy and corporate donors, each of whom has paid at least $10,000 for the chance to sway her views.
One media report has revealed how, even though the B.C. Liberals are avoiding a sitting of the legislature this fall, it has not stopped the party from holding at least nine fundraising galas this fall.

RELATED

For their part, Clark and B.C. Liberal cabinet ministers such as Mike De Jong, Rich Coleman, Suzanne Anton and Peter Fassbender consistently deny — and expect voters to believe — that corporate donors do not gain any business advantage at all. None.
Even while some progress is being made in highlighting the downside of corporate and union donations, however, Huntington acknowledged the public knows little about foreign donations — partly because the transnational money trail is particularly complex.
“It’s hard to prove a foreign donor is directly shaping policy choices. Still, you know the donations are made to influence decision-making. My mind goes to the question of sovereignty,” said Huntington, who added that donations from residents of other provinces should also be forbidden.
“You are not respecting voters when you allow foreign companies to shape local political decisions,’” said Huntingdon, whose remarks echo a report this year from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Titled Financing Democracy, the OECD report warned: “Political parties and candidates need to be responsive to their constituents and not influenced by foreign interests. Too much foreign interference in elections is a danger to a country’s sovereignty.”
Like the OECD and others who urge reform, Huntington recommends that only individual B.C. voters should donate and there should be greater public financing of election campaigns, with limits on advertising.

Malaysia-based Holborn Holdings has donated $226,000 to the B.C. Liberals. As well as having bought B.C.-government owned land next to Vancouver’s Little Mountain, which up until then had provided social housing, Holborn has also built Vancouver’s luxurious Trump Tower (above).
Malaysia-based Holborn Holdings has donated $226,000 to the B.C. Liberals. As well as having bought B.C.-government owned land next to Vancouver’s Little Mountain, which up until then had provided social housing, Holborn has also built Vancouver’s luxurious Trump Tower (above).MARK VAN MANEN /PNG FILES

Big foreign donors to B.C. Liberals

Which foreign companies are donating the most to the B.C. Liberals?
The independent watchdog, Integrity B.C., has doggedly tracked the complex web of tens of thousands of donations made each year to politicians on the West Coast.
Executive director Dermod Travis this week compiled a list of the contributions made to the B.C. Liberals in the past decade by roughly 100 companies that are, directly or indirectly, based offshore.
Some big donors from the United States include Colliers International, a real estate company, which gave the B.C. Liberals $105,000. Hub International, a U.S. insurance company, donated $117,000, Weyerhaeuser gave $215,000, Chevron donated $140,000, Kinder Morgan donated $28,000, Pfizer donated $45,000 and Kiewit gave $101,000.
Two of the largest business donors from Asia include Indonesia-based Paper Excellence, which donated $90,000, and Woodfibre LNG, which gave $58,000.
China’s Kailuan Dehua mining company gave $59,000 to the B.C. Liberals. Japan’s Tanac Development gave $50,000, Dubai’s DP World gave $41,000 and Malaysia’s Holborn Holdings — it calls itself a Vancouver holding company, but is run by Joo Kim Tiah, son of one of Asia’s richest tycoons — donated $226,000.
Holborn’s massive contribution to the B.C. Liberals is significant not only because the Malaysian-based company controversially bought a large swath of B.C.-government owned land next to Vancouver’s Little Mountain, which up until then had provided social housing.
The Holborn Group is also building Vancouver’s luxurious Trump Tower, named after the presidential candidate whose supporters have blatantly flouted U.S. election laws by seeking big-money foreign gifts.
If Trump is elected president on Tuesday, is it possible one of the first things the transnational real-estate magnate would do is normalize his own fundraising tactics by trying to change American laws to legalize foreign donations?
If so, Trump could point to the North American example set by his fellow travellers in the B.C. Liberals, who have been in power for 15 years and seem never to have met a corporate or foreign donor they don’t like.

Foreign-based Corporate Donors to B.C. Liberal Party
(Data provided by Integrity B.C., based on B.C. government public records for past decade)
7-ELEVEN CANADA $59,320.00 USA
ADOBE INC $10,000.00 USA
ALASKA AIRLINES / HORIZON AIR $1,000.00 USA
BANK OF CHINA $388.00 CHINA
BLACK BALL FERRY LINE $9,375.00 USA
BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY (BURLINGTON NORTHERN) $14,526.75 USA
CANADIAN DEHUA INTERNATIONAL MINES GROUP INC $15,564.00 CHINA
CANADIAN KAILUAN DEHUA MINES CO LTD $44,410.00 CHINA
CGR INVESTMENTS INC $11,299.00 CHINA

CLIPPER NAVIGATION LTD  $2,215.91 USA
COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL $105,015.00  USA
DAVID LEADBETTER GOLF ACADEMY – IMG ACADEMIES (UK) LTD $375.00 UK
DISNEY ONLINE STUDIOS CANADA INC  $1,000.00  USA
DP WORLD (CANADA) INC  $41,990.00  DUBAI
EARTH TECH (CANADA) INC.  $2,000.00  USA
ELECTRONIC ARTS (CANADA) INC  $260.00  USA
EMAAR PROPERTIES (CANADA) LTD  $300.00  DUBAI
GENERAL ELECTRIC  $18,545.00  USA
GROSVENOR CANADA LTD  $7,990.00  UK
HD MINING INTERNATIONAL LTD  $3,000.00  CHINA
HOLBORN HOLDINGS / TA MANAGEMENT LTD $226,690.00  MALAYSIA
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE  $3,000.00 USA
HSBC BANK CANADA  $8,100.00  CHINA (HONG KONG)
HUB INTERNATIONAL  $117,200.00  USA
KGHM AJAX MINING INC  $55,450.00  POLAND
KLAPPAN COAL JOINT VENTURE  $700.00  SOUTH KOREA
LISTEL HOTEL – LISTEL CANADA LTD  $738.00
LOUISIANA-PACIFIC CANADA LTD  $6,000.00  USA
MERCEDES-BENZ CANADA INC. $760.00  GERMANY
MICROSOFT CORP. $29,809.00  USA
MITSUBISHI MOTORS CANADA  $2,500.00  JAPAN
NBC UNIVERSAL MEDIA LLC  $528.20  USA
OAK MARITIME (CANADA) INC  $2,200.00  CHINA (HONG KONG)
OASIS HONG KONG AIRLINES LTD  $5,100.00  CHINA (HONG KONG)

P&O PORTS CANADA INC  $24,485.00  DUBAI
PM (CANADA) CONSULTING  $300.00  USA
POSCO CANADA LTD  $1,150.00  SOUTH KOREA
REPUBLIC SERVICES INC  $30,258.26  USA
ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD  $3,701.00 USA
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS  $500.00  USA
SSAB SWEDISH STEEL LTD  $1,400.00  SWEDEN
SUMITOMO METAL MINING AMERICA INC  $11,100.00 JAPAN
TANAC DEVELOPMENT CANADA CORP  $50,000.00  JAPAN
UBISOFT ENTERTAINMENT $800.00  FRANCE
UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX ULC  $21,740.00  USA
VALLES STEAMSHIP (CANADA) LTD  $10,000.00  TAIWAN
FORESTRY / PULP & PAPER
BABINE FOREST PRODUCTS / HAMPTON  $29,310.00  USA
MERCER INTERNATIONAL  $115,100.00  USA
NORSKE SKOG  $28,790.00  NORWAY
PAPER EXCELLENCE CANADA HOLDINGS CORP  $90,488.00  INDONESIA
SUN WAVE FOREST PRODUCTS LTD  $3,397.00  CHINA

WEYERHAEUSER  $215,345.00  USA
ENERGY
BURLINGTON RESOURCES CANADA LTD  $22,738.00  USA

Premier Christy Clark announces proposed Woodfibre LNG project near Squamish on Nov. 4, 2016. Woodfibre LNG, based in Indonesia, is one of more than 100 foreign companies that have donated to the B.C. Liberal Party. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

CHEVRON CANADA LTD  $140,563.44  USA
CONOCOPHILLIPS CANADA  $31,060.00  USA
FRED. OLSEN RENEWABLES (CANADA) LTD  $6,050.00  NORWAY
KINDER MORGAN INC  $28,888.00  USA
PROGRESS ENERGY RESOURCES CORP  $17,000.00  MALAYSIA
WOODFIBRE LNG LTD  $58,500.00 INDONESIA
PHARMACEUTICALS
VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS (CANADA) INC  $375.00 USA
BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM (CANADA) LTD  $13,775.00 GERMANY
ELI LILLY CANADA INC  $6,323.00  USA
WYETH CANADA  $12,197.00  USA
AMGEN CANADA INC  $23,675.00  USA
NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS CANADA INC  $26,720.00  SWITZERLAND
JOHNSON & JOHNSON INC  $29,570.00  USA
JANSSEN INC  $31,734.00  BELGIUM
GLAXOSMITHKLINE INC  $31,912.00  UK
MERCK CANADA INC  $43,047.00  USA
PFIZER CANADA INC  $45,037.00  USA
INFRASTRUCTURE
ACCIONA INFRASTRUCTURE CANADA INC  $10,350.00 SPAIN
AMEC AMERICAS LTD  $74,855.00  USA
BILFINGER BERGER AG  $2,000.00  GERMANY
BUOYGUES BUILDING BC  $5,000.00  FRANCE
CH2M HILL CANADA LTD  $6,400.00  USA
FLATIRON CONSTRUCTION CANADA  $7,800.00  USA
CORIX INFRASTRUCTURE  $2,500.00  USA
MACQUARIE N. AMERICA / FRASER SURREY DOCKS LP  $31,000.00 AUSTRALIA
KIEWIT/FLATIRON GENERAL PARTNERSHIP  $5,000.00 USA
KIEWIT  $101,475.00  USA
PLENARY GROUP  $30,190.00  AUSTRALIA
MWH GLOBAL (ENGINEERING)  $15,436.64  USA
HARRIS REBAR DIV OF HARRIS STEEL LTD  $20,700.00  USA
GAMING
DIANA BENNETT (Paragon) 2013-11-13 $5,078.00  USA
SCOTT MENKE  (Paragon) 2013-11-13 $5,078.00  USA