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China likely to escape scot-free in persecution of two Canadians


6 minute read

From the MacDonald Laurier Institute

By Charles Burton

Beijing propagandists are already using recent claims to vindicate the appalling treatment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor

There is a deep sadness to reports that Michael Spavor feels he was badly wronged by his fellow former political prisoner Michael Kovrig and, by extension, political officers at Canada’s embassy in Beijing and their masters in Ottawa.

Spavor reportedly wants millions in compensation from the Canadian government for its alleged complicity in his detention in his Chinese prison ordeal. If this ends up in court, Kovrig and his superiors would have an opportunity to defend themselves against these allegations, but Beijing propagandists are already using them to vindicate the appalling treatment of Kovrig and Spavor — a gross violation of international law — by a ruthless regime that arrested them to pressure Canada into releasing Chinese Communist Party figure Meng Wanzhou from house arrest in Vancouver.

While few specifics are known about Spavor’s claims, media reports depict a connection to Kovrig’s former job at Canada’s embassy in Beijing, and later with the International Crisis Group think tank, roles in which he would allegedly meet with people in China, engage them in his fluent Mandarin, and mine the conversations for nuggets of insight into China’s political or economic affairs.

Chinese authorities, of course, don’t like such activities. One expects that Kovrig and his superiors, both in government and the ICG, would have been well aware that this type of work would irritate Beijing, thus the danger of arbitrary detention on trumped-up charges was always there whenever he visited China without the protection of a diplomatic passport. And so it was.

One particularly troubling aspect of this sort of activity is the risk it presents to people who might unknowingly be sources for these information-gathering practices. Apparently Spavor and Kovrig routinely got together for drinks and sessions of good-humoured conversation. But friendships with diplomats imply that observations shared in a bar can end up the next morning in a report to Ottawa, and on to the Five Eyes. Was this possibility lost on Spavor? Was Kovrig perhaps not as forthcoming as he could have been about the full dimensions of their chats?

And there is always the possibility that China’s Ministry of State Security has access to Canadian diplomatic communications, which led them to open a file on the two.

Spavor ran a business, Paektu Cultural Exchange, that facilitated sports, cultural, tourism and business exchanges with North Korea. These pricey tours necessitated the transfer of badly-needed foreign currency into North Korea, arguably helping to enable the repressive Pyongyang regime. Perhaps more intriguing, in the course of his work Spavor developed an unlikely rapport with the third-generation Kim family dictator, Kim Jong Un, and was photographed jet-skiing and drinking cocktails with him on a private yacht. It is very plausible that China strongly disapproved of their junior proxy Korean communist dictator cavorting with non-Chinese foreign friends, hence his arrest.

Troublingly, Canadians — who were transfixed and infuriated by the two Michaels’ incarceration — have had little news about Kovrig and Spavor’s China nightmare since their sudden release in September 2021, just hours after Canada released Meng. One wonders if Ottawa really did enough to incentivize China’s Communist authorities to send them home sooner, or if there were other factors in Canada’s murky relationship with Beijing that took priority over what was perhaps downplayed behind closed doors as just another consular matter, one of many that are de facto subordinated to trade and political interests.

We may never see any Global Affairs Canada officials or former diplomats giving public evidence in a Canadian court to defend against Spavor’s accusation. To be sure, much of what goes on between Canada and China — indeed, within our own government internally — is kept from us by the secretive walls of the Security of Information Act.

Perhaps Spavor will be given a big whack of taxpayer money in an out-of-court settlement laced with ironclad nondisclosure provisions. One thing is for sure though. The Chinese authorities who so brutally persecuted him will, as usual, get off scot-free.

Charles Burton is a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, non-resident senior fellow of the European Values Center for Security Policy in Prague, and former diplomat at Canada’s embassy in Beijing.

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Maxime Bernier warns Canadians of Trudeau’s plan to implement WEF global tax regime

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

If ‘the idea of a global corporate tax becomes normalized, we may eventually see other agreements to impose other taxes, on carbon, airfare, or who knows what.’

People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier has warned that the Liberal government’s push for World Economic Forum (WEF) “Global Tax” scheme should concern Canadians. 

According to Canada’s 2024 Budget, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is working to pass the WEF’s Global Minimum Tax Act which will mandate that multinational companies pay a minimum tax rate of 15 percent.

“Canadians should be very concerned, for several reasons,” People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier told LifeSiteNews, in response to the proposal.

“First, the WEF is a globalist institution that actively campaigns for the establishment of a world government and for the adoption of socialist, authoritarian, and reactionary anti-growth policies across the world,” he explained. “Any proposal they make is very likely not in the interest of Canadians.” 

“Second, this minimum tax on multinationals is a way to insidiously build support for a global harmonized tax regime that will lower tax competition between countries, and therefore ensure that taxes can stay higher everywhere,” he continued.  

“Canada reaffirms its commitment to Pillar One and will continue to work diligently to finalize a multilateral treaty and bring the new system into effect as soon as a critical mass of countries is willing,” the budget stated.  

“However, in view of consecutive delays internationally in implementing the multilateral treaty, Canada cannot continue to wait before taking action,” it continued.   

The Trudeau government also announced it would be implementing “Pillar Two,” which aims to establish a global minimum corporate tax rate. 

“Pillar Two of the plan is a global minimum tax regime to ensure that large multinational corporations are subject to a minimum effective tax rate of 15 per cent on their profits wherever they do business,” the Liberals explained.  

According to the budget, Trudeau promised to introduce the new legislation in Parliament soon.  

The global tax was first proposed by Secretary-General of Amnesty International at the WEF meeting in Davos this January.  

“Let’s start taxing carbon…[but] not just carbon tax,” the head of Amnesty International, Agnes Callamard, said during a panel discussion.  

According to the WEF, the tax, proposed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “imposes a minimum effective rate of 15% on corporate profits.”  

Following the meeting, 140 countries, including Canada, pledged to impose the tax.  

While a tax on large corporations does not necessarily sound unethical, implementing a global tax appears to be just the first step in the WEF’s globalization plan by undermining the sovereignty of nations.  

While Bernier explained that multinationals should pay taxes, he argued it is the role of each country to determine what those taxes are.   

“The logic of pressuring countries with low taxes to raise them is that it lessens fiscal competition and makes it then less costly and easier for countries with higher taxes to keep them high,” he said.  

Bernier pointed out that competition is good since it “forces everyone to get better and more efficient.” 

“In the end, we all end up paying for taxes, even those paid by multinationals, as it causes them to raise prices and transfer the cost of taxes to consumers,” he warned.  

Bernier further explained that the new tax could be a first step “toward the implementation of global taxes by the United Nations or some of its agencies, with the cooperation of globalist governments like Trudeau’s willing to cede our sovereignty to these international organizations.”   

“Just like ‘temporary taxes’ (like the income tax adopted during WWI) tend to become permanent, ‘minimum taxes’ tend to be raised,” he warned. “And if the idea of a global corporate tax becomes normalized, we may eventually see other agreements to impose other taxes, on carbon, airfare, or who knows what.”   

Trudeau’s involvement in the WEF’s plan should not be surprising considering his current environmental goals – which are in lockstep with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – which include the phasing out coal-fired power plants, reducing fertilizer usage, and curbing natural gas use over the coming decades.    

The reduction and eventual elimination of so-called “fossil fuels” and a transition to unreliable “green” energy has also been pushed by the World Economic Forum – the aforementioned group famous for its socialist “Great Reset” agenda – in which Trudeau and some of his cabinet are involved.     

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Canada’s economy has stagnated despite Ottawa’s spin

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From the Fraser Institute

By Ben Eisen, Milagros Palacios and Lawrence Schembri

Canada’s inflation-adjusted per-person annual economic growth rate (0.7 per cent) is meaningfully worse than the G7 average (1.0 per cent) over this same period. The gap with the U.S. (1.2 per cent) is even larger. Only Italy performed worse than Canada.

Growth in gross domestic product (GDP), the total value of all goods and services produced in the economy annually, is one of the most frequently cited indicators of Canada’s economic performance. Journalists, politicians and analysts often compare various measures of Canada’s total GDP growth to other countries, or to Canada’s past performance, to assess the health of the economy and living standards. However, this statistic is misleading as a measure of living standards when population growth rates vary greatly across countries or over time.

Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, for example, recently boasted that Canada had experienced the “strongest economic growth in the G7” in 2022. Although the Trudeau government often uses international comparisons on aggregate GDP growth as evidence of economic success, it’s not the first to do so. In 2015, then-prime minister Stephen Harper said Canada’s GDP growth was “head and shoulders above all our G7 partners over the long term.”

Unfortunately, such statements do more to obscure public understanding of Canada’s economic performance than enlighten it. In reality, aggregate GDP growth statistics are not driven by productivity improvements and do not reflect rising living standards. Instead, they’re primarily the result of differences in population and labour force growth. In other words, they aren’t primarily the result of Canadians becoming better at producing goods and services (i.e. productivity) and thus generating more income for their families. Instead, they primarily reflect the fact that there are simply more people working, which increases the total amount of goods and services produced but doesn’t necessarily translate into increased living standards.

Let’s look at the numbers. Canada’s annual average GDP growth (with no adjustment for population) from 2000 to 2023 was the second-highest in the G7 at 1.8 per cent, just behind the United States at 1.9 per cent. That sounds good, until you make a simple adjustment for population changes by comparing GDP per person. Then a completely different story emerges.

Canada’s inflation-adjusted per-person annual economic growth rate (0.7 per cent) is meaningfully worse than the G7 average (1.0 per cent) over this same period. The gap with the U.S. (1.2 per cent) is even larger. Only Italy performed worse than Canada.

Why the inversion of results from good to bad? Because Canada has had by far the fastest population growth rate in the G7, growing at an annualized rate of 1.1 per cent—more than twice the annual population growth rate of the G7 as a whole at 0.5 per cent. In aggregate, Canada’s population increased by 29.8 per cent during this time period compared to just 11.5 per cent in the entire G7.

Clearly, aggregate GDP growth is a poor tool for international comparisons. It’s also not a good way to assess changes in Canada’s performance over time because Canada’s rate of population growth has not been constant. Starting in 2016, sharply higher rates of immigration have led to a pronounced increase in population growth. This increase has effectively partially obscured historically weak economic growth per person over the same period.

Specifically, from 2015 to 2023, under the Trudeau government, inflation-adjusted per-person economic growth averaged just 0.3 per cent. For historical perspective, per-person economic growth was 0.8 per cent annually under Brian Mulroney, 2.4 per cent under Jean Chrétien and 2.0 per cent under Paul Martin.

Due to Canada’s sharp increase in population growth in recent years, aggregate GDP growth is a misleading indicator for comparing economic growth performance across countries or time periods. Canada is not leading the G7, or doing well in historical terms, when it comes to economic growth measures that make simple adjustments for our rapidly growing population. In reality, we’ve become a growth laggard and our living standards have largely stagnated for the better part of a decade.

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