Saturday, May 13, 2023

SNOBELEN: Feds forced to admit they ignored China's threat to MP

SNOBELEN: Feds forced to admit they ignored China's threat to MP

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Be careful of the quiet people. That’s a lesson most people learn early in life. Apparently, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly never got the memo.

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Joly found out that still waters run deep when she tangled with Michael Chong. Chong is a nice guy. The Halton MP is polite to a fault, listens more than he talks and is given to the unusual practice of actually thinking about things.

To say that Chong is an unusual politician is like saying that a duck is a weird dog. He is the mirror opposite of the vacuous trained seals who spew jingoistic chant on command.

Chong was first elected almost 20 years ago. Befitting an unusual politician, he’s had an unusual political career. Most politicians desperately claw and scratch to get into cabinet (and stay there). Chong is that rare person who made cabinet and then resigned over a matter of principle.

He believes in the institutions of democracy, acts with integrity and purpose and has the courage of real conviction. He is, in short, a dangerous man.How dangerous?

He has earned the distinction of being sanctioned by two notorious dictators over his public condemnation of Uyghur genocide in China and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. When Putin and Xi Jinping fear you, you must be dangerous.

Dangerous people call for desperate actions. According to leaked reports from CSIS, two years ago the People’s Republic of China began collecting information on Chong’s extended family in Hong Kong, presumably to intimidate Chong.

We now know CSIS provided this information to the Privy Council Office but did not brief Chong on the potential threat to his family.

The Trudeau government knew the PRC had targeted Chong and his family and sat on that information for two years until it was forced to act by a leak first reported in the Globe and Mail. By act, I mean dodge, weave and flummox.

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All this set up an extraordinary exchange between Chong — who was a freckle-miffed the government had not seen fit to inform him that his family was threatened —and Joly, who was tasked with empathizing with Chong while doing the square root of nothing.

Chong asked Joly why Zhao Wei, the diplomat who investigated his family, was still in Canada with full diplomatic immunity. Joly responded that her government “would not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs.”

This is, of course, a bald-faced lie. The government has spent the last two years ignoring a report of foreign interference and would have continued to happily do so if the Globe and Mail hadn’t published the CSIS leak.

In one of the weirdest statements on record, Joly went on to say her government was assessing the potential repercussions of defending Canada. She referenced “economic interests, consular interests and diplomatic interests” and tossed in a comment about remembering the two Michaels.

In other words, national security is important, but not so much if you annoy China.

Faced with a rational person with deep convictions and a principled belief in the importance of democracy, Joly could only spew empty rhetoric. It was embarrassing.

Backed into a corner, the government finally announced the expulsion of Zhao Wei two full years after the report from CSIS reached the Privy Council office. This shouldn’t be that hard.

And it wouldn’t have happened without the quiet determination of Michael Chong.

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