Photo source: Michael Chan's home page
Photo source: Michael Chan’s home page

OnePacificNews, June 19 2015, Friday

Three days after the Globe and Mail reported that Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan remains under investigation for his allegedly close ties to the Chinese government, Canada’s Chinese community and its leaders have largely remained silent. There has been no report in the mainstream English language press of comment or show of support for the embattled Chan from any political or civic leader from the country’s estimated 1.5-million Chinese community.

But in separate interviews, a University of British Columbia (UBC) expert in Asian studies, backed by a former career diplomat who served in Asia, delivered scathing reviews of the newspaper’s June 16 self-described “investigation” stories to add to mostly critical comments in the Globe’s own forum pages. Citing Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General Peter Mackay, the Globe said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) is continuing its five-year investigations into Mr Chan’s activities and close ties with the Chinese government. Mr Mackay has since denied he confirmed the investigations.

“The attack on Mr Chan is disgraceful and framing connections with China as a loyalty issue,” wrote Professor Paul Evans at UBC’s Institute of Asian Research and Liu Institute for Global Issues in an email reply to OnePacificNews.

“The use of anti-China sentiments in the run-up to (Canada’s federal) election is very sad to watch.”

Photo source: Peter Mackay's website
Photo source: Peter Mackay’s website

Canada is scheduled to hold its 42nd general election on October 19, with polls showing the ruling Conservative Party in a close race with the NDP and Liberals.

A former diplomat, who declined to be named, described the Globe stories as “an insinuation” that unfairly casts a pall over Mr Chan, Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade.

“What Michael Chan has done could be said of other politicians dealing with the US, Ukraine or Israel with which Canada has close ties. There would be constant phone calls and contacts,” he said.

The only difference is that while these countries are well known to the Canadian establishment, China is a rising power with a negative image and not understood by most Canadians, said the former diplomat in a phone interview.

“Canadians are uncomfortable because the Chinese are not doing a good job communicating their actions and intentions,” he said.

He said he understood the need for Mr Chan to maintain close ties with Chinese government and business officials as it was his job to help Canada expand trade links with the world’s second largest economy.

As for the Globe and Mail stories, he asks: “How do you defend against such an insinuation? It’s a serious comment along the lines of ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’ There’s no way you can defend yourself against such headlines.”

In a June 17 letter released on his website,, that was also published in the Globe and other newspapers, Mr Chan expressed hurt and called the stories “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. Globe and Mail, June 24, 2010,” he wrote.

Importantly, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne quickly and unreservedly leapt to his defence as she dismissed the “baseless” allegations while expressing full confidence in Mr Chan who has a long record of public service including the last eight years as a Cabinet minister in the province.


Comments by Globe and Mail’s readers

Most of the 197 comments posted in response to Mr Chan’s open letter in the Globe, were generally favourable to him and critical of the newspaper’s stories written by reporter Craig Offman.

If the Globe and Mail or Minister MacKay have any serious evidence that Mr Chan has done something wrong they should let the readership and public at large know what it is and act on it,” reader Jim Young Burlington wrote.

“Mr Chan is not only entitled to the presumption of innocence all Canadians have but he appears to be a hardworking, proud citizen who has served his province and our country more than most of us.

“To suggest anything sinister in an immigrant from China, who is Provincial Minister of International Trade, having contacts with China is not only ludicrous, it is petty, small minded and plays right into the political ethos of Minister MacKay and his paranoid conservative fellows.

“Unless there is solid evidence to the contrary, this is an example of “Carding” on a grand scale and stinks of the same racist overtones. TGAM, CSIS and Mr Mackay should either put up or shut up.”

Another reader, Bojue, who claims to have lived in China for 4.5 years, described the stories as a “sinister attack technique” and “smell of what the Americans called McCarthyism.”

With a touch of irony, Not the Alliance said he “really appreciate(s) the Globe giving all of us who were too young to live through the McCarthy witch hunts a taste of what it was like. Thanks Globe for this flashback to McCarthyism! Maybe you should start a blacklist too!”

Supporting the Globe stories, Sidewinder97 agreed that “murky” Chinese Communist money constitutes foreign interference in Canada.

“This money flows with the immigrants and immigrant investor participants, who bring in corrupt money into Canada. They then become Canadian citizens (we obviously don’t value our citizenship because we just sell-it to the highest bidders). They then make contributions to our politicians, fund campaigns, and offer “future business” opportunities for their candidates when they leave office.”


McKay criticises Globe’s “asinine assertion”

The Globe story lost vital ground on Thursday when Mr MacKay criticised as “asinine assertion” the report of his alleged confirmation that the CSIS was continuing its investigation into Mr Chan’s activities.

According to the Canadian Press, Mr Mackay said “I’ve made no allegations. I’ve confirmed nothing” in response to what he described was a leading question on whether it was appropriate for government ministers to have close relationships with foreign officials. The story did not mention why Mr Mackay took two days to respond to the growing controversy over the Globe stories that carry serious implications for Canada and its officials and business people who are pushing for greater trade ties with China.


Canada’s Chinese community under scrutiny

The Globe story is the latest in a series of stories by Canada’s mainstream media that has been increasingly critical of the Chinese community.

Last week, the Vancouver Sun published a series of three articles on the major transformation of Richmond city near Vancouver, due largely to the recent influx of wealthy Chinese migrants. The author, Douglas Todd, who has previously written critical articles of Chinese behaviour in Canada, focused on the controversy of Chinese language signs and the low tax contributions from those living in Richmond’s affluent parts.

Residents living in and around Vancouver are also blaming Chinese migrants for the city’s rising housing unaffordability and living cost.

Despite the lack of data, Vancouver’s mainstream media have helped fan populist anger against its growing and increasingly affluent Chinese minority. While also blaming city officials and the province for not curbing Chinese demand, the media has not investigated other possible contributors such as the prolonged role of low interest rates and buying by funds and professional investment groups in boosting real estate values.

The Chinese community has largely kept silent to the growing public uproar over these numerous issues.

One Pacific News Editor