OTTAWA — The Chinese government is accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being naive in assuming that President Donald Trump did him any favours by raising the case of two imprisoned Canadians with President Xi Jinping.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, was talking Wednesday about Trudeau’s comment a day earlier in Toronto, where he said he was “confident” Trump raised the matter with Xi at the G20 summit in Japan this past weekend.
In an Oval Office meeting last month with Trudeau, Trump said he would raise the plight of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in his planned meeting with Xi, as a favour to Canada.
In December, Canada detained Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S. government, which wants to extradite her to face fraud charges.
Kovrig and Spavor were arrested 10 days later and have been charged with violating China’s national security, but many view their detentions as retaliation for Meng’s arrest.
Trump said before leaving the G20 in Japan that he hadn’t discussed the Meng case with Xi, raising questions about whether he made good on his White House commitment to Trudeau to protest Kovrig’s and Spavor’s detentions.
“I would like to caution the Canadian side against being too naive,” Geng said after he was asked at a Beijing briefing whether Trump raised the matter with Xi, according to a transcript released by China’s foreign-affairs ministry.
“First, it shouldn’t be so naive as to believe that asking its so-called ally to pressure China will work. China is a country with the rule of law and the judicial authorities handle cases independently. China’s judicial sovereignty brooks no interference.
“Second, it shouldn’t be so naive as to believe that its so-called ally will earnestly pursue a Canadian agenda. They will only pay a lip service, at best. The matter is, after all, between China and Canada.”
Geng reiterated the Chinese view that Canada is solely responsible for the current degeneration of relations between the two countries. China has repeatedly called on Canada to release Meng.
Since then, Sino-Canadian relations have plunged to a new low.
China has all but stopped importing several Canadian products. Its authorities claim shipments of Canadian canola — for which China is a major market — have been found to be ridden with pests.
Then, prior to the G20 summit, China announced a suspension of all imports of Canadian meat products because of claimed concerns over fraudulent inspection reports. Canada has acknowledged that at least one shipment of pork went to China with bogus information attached to it but has suggested the certification was so phoney that the shipment might not even have been Canadian. The RCMP and the Canadian Border Services Agency are investigating.
International Trade Minister Jim Carr scoffed at the suggestion Canada is naive in thinking its allies could help.
“Who are they to say there is no value in Canada talking to its allies about issues that we have abroad in a multilateral system?” he said to reporters following a meeting with Canadian pork- and-beef industry representatives in Montreal. “That’s how we do diplomacy.”
Carr added Canada has had “countless” conversations with allied countries around the world regarding what he described as the current difficult relations with China.
“We talk about those two detained Canadians, we talk of allegations that our canola somehow contains impurities. And our allies are agreeing with us. And in their own way and within their own comfort zones, there are many messages being sent to Chinese officials.”
Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau joined Carr in the meat meeting. She told reporters it was too early to talk about compensation for farmers hit by the closure of the Chinese market.
“Our first priority is to reopen the market,” Bibeau said. “We have daily conversations with Chinese authorities, which gives me hope we can find a solution.”
She said talks with China regarding meat exports are moving faster than those about canola.
Bibeau said China is dealing with a breakout of African swine fever affecting its domestic pork industry, “so they have a big demand for pork, in particular. They have a clear motivation to get our products.
“For canola, it’s a little more difficult to exchange information. We still haven’t received evidence of the alleged impurities.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Wednesday Trudeau has done “nothing” to help Kovrig and Spavor.
“He’s relying on the charity now of Donald Trump and other world leaders to do for him what he’s not willing to do for himself, and that’s stand up for this country,” Scheer said in the Yukon capital of Whitehorse.
The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version gave an incorrect day for Geng Shuang’s comments.
The rich and sobering history of Red Deer’s “Unknown Soldier”
The origins of Red Deer’s beautiful Cenotaph date back to the end of WWI. The statue of the Unknown Soldier is a provincial historic site. In this article, historian and author Michael Dawe helps us understand the rich history of this monument and reminds us all of the sacrifice of our forebearers. Enjoy the photo gallery showing the changes to the Cenotaph and its surroundings over the years.
The Cenotaph by Michael Dawe
There are many memorials around the City of Red Deer to honour those who served and those who lost their lives during a time of war. The main community memorial is the Cenotaph, the statue of the Unknown Soldier that stands in the centre of Ross Street in the heart of downtown Red Deer.
The origins of the Cenotaph go back to the end of the First World War. That conflict had been a searing experience for Red Deer. 850 young men and women from the City and surrounding districts had enlisted. Of these, 118 lost their lives. Of those who returned, many had suffered terrible wounds and faced a lifetime of ill health and suffering. Hence, it was extremely important to the community that a fitting and very special memorial be created.
On December 18, 1918, five weeks after the end of the War, the Central Alberta local of the Great War Veterans Association (forerunner of the Royal Canadian Legion) organized a large public meeting to discuss the creation of such a memorial. Three proposals were initially made. The first was to construct a pyramidal monument of river cobblestones in the centre of the City. The second was to construct a community hall and recreation facility next to City Hall. The third was to purchase the old Alexandra (Park) Hotel and turn it into a community centre.
After considerable discussion, a fourth proposal was adopted. It was decided to build a monument rather than a community centre. However, at the suggestion of Lochlan MacLean, it was also decided that this monument be in the form of a statue of a soldier, mounted on a pedestal, rather than a cobblestone pyramid or obelisk.
Major Frank Norbury, an architectural sculptor at the University of Alberta and a veteran of the War, was commissioned to carve the statue. He came up with the concept of carving the Unknown Soldier as he was coming off active duty on the front line. He was to face west, toward home and peace. He was also to be positioned towards the C.P.R. station from which most of the soldiers had left Red Deer for the War.
This latter point was one of the greatest controversies about the Cenotaph. City Council and a few others wanted it in the centre of the City Square (now City Hall Park). However, the majority wanted it facing directly towards the station and in the middle of Ross Street, Red Deer’s busiest thoroughfare, so that it would be a constant reminder of the sacrifices of the War.
Meanwhile, fundraising for the project commenced, but proved quite a challenge. Post-war Red Deer faced one of the worst economic depressions in its history. However, despite the general shortage of money, by the following summer more than half of the $6200 needed had been raised. Unfortunately, Red Deer City Council decided that given its financial situation, it could not contribute any money to the project. This decision reinforced the opinion of the Memorial Committee that Council’s wish to have the Cenotaph in the middle of the City Square should be ignored.
There were still a lot of hard feelings about that lack of official City participation. Eventually, City Council agreed to build a boulevard in the middle of Ross Street, west of 49 Avenue, as a site for the Cenotaph. A decision was also made to place street lights at either end of that boulevard to provide nighttime illumination of the spot.
There was another debate regarding the proper means of recording the names of those killed in the War. Some wanted tablets placed on the pedestal. However, the Memorial Committee was worried about having a complete and accurate list. Finally, it was agreed to have two scrolls prepared, one with the names of those who had served and one with the names of those who had lost their lives. Both scrolls were put into a copper tube and placed in a cavity in the pedestal.
On September 15, 1922, the Cenotaph was officially unveiled. To the delight of the community, Governor General Lord Byng of Vimy agreed to come and do the honours. Lord Byng was a hero of one of Canada’s most significant military victories, the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Vimy was also a victory that had also come with very heavy loss of life, both locally and nationally.
At the time of the official unveiling, it was reported that the Cenotaph was the first sculpture war memorial in Alberta. Once the official dedication was completed, the monument was placed into trust with the City on behalf of those who had contributed to its creation.
The Cenotaph was rededicated in 1949 to include remembrance of those who served and lost their lives in the Second World War. A plaque signifying that designation was added to the pedestal. After the completion of the new City Hall Park and the Memorial Centre in the early 1950’s. there was a push to relocate the Cenotaph from its location on Ross Street to either the centre of City Hall Park or a new site in front of the Memorial Centre. However, a plebiscite was held in 1953 in which the citizens of Red Deer voted to keep the Cenotaph were it was.
Another plaque was added in 1988 in memory of those who served and died in the Korean Conflict. At the same time, through the efforts of some dedicated members of the public, special lighting was added to ensure that the Cenotaph was highly visible at night.
There were new proposals in the 1990’s to relocate the Cenotaph to City Hall Park. However, Charlie Mac Lean, son of Lochlan MacLean and one of the last surviving people to have actually built the Cenotaph, offered the opinion that he did not think that the monument could be safely relocated.
In 2006, the Cenotaph was extensively cleaned and repaired. City Council then successfully applied to have the Cenotaph designated as a Provincial Historic Site. In 2010-2011, a beautiful Veterans’ Park was created around the Cenotaph, to enhance it and to make it more accessible to the public. Moreover, eight interpretive panels were created to let people know the full significance of Red Deer’s official war memorial. They give the stories of those who served in the Boer War, First World War, Second World War, Korean Conflict, the Afghanistan War and all the peace-keeping and peace-making missions in which Canadians have been involved.
Lest We Forget.
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Province of Alberta puts criminals on notice!
From The Province of Alberta
Government announces plan to combat rural crime
The province is standing up for rural Albertans by acting on concerns to deter crime, reinforce property rights and give victims a stronger voice in the justice system.
“We are sending a strong signal to rural Albertans who have been victimized for far too long. We have listened to you. We have heard you. And we are standing with you. We want to ensure you know that we are going to do everything we can as a provincial government to help you feel safe in your communities.”
“In many ways, rural communities are the heart of this province – hard-working, salt-of-the-earth, and always ready and willing to lend a hand to a neighbour in need. It’s heartbreaking to see the scourge of criminal activity worsen in these communities over the past several years, and we need to take action. This is an issue that affects many in my own community, and it is one that I take very seriously. As we promised, our government is taking immediate steps to make sure everyone feels safe and secure in their homes and in their communities.”
Integrating provincial peace officers
In rural areas, police can be stretched across large distances, which can lead to longer response times. To help reduce response times, the government will create the Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defence Force – the RAPID Force – by expanding the roles and authorities of 400 peace officers in the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch and the traffic arm of the Alberta Sheriffs. The changes will allow these officers to respond to a wider range of calls and to assist the RCMP and other police services in some emergencies.
Training and related planning is underway, to have the first of these officers available to assist rural Albertans by fall 2020.
Strengthening property rights
To defend the rights of law-abiding property owners, the government will introduce changes to the Occupiers’ Liability Act. These changes would eliminate the liability of law-abiding property owners who are protecting their property against trespasses who are, or who are believed to be, in the commission of a criminal act. This provision will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018.
To strengthen trespass laws and further defend property rights, planned legislation includes a proposed five-fold increase to the maximum fines for trespassing offences, with fines of up to $10,000 for a first violation and $25,000 for subsequent offences, as well as possible prison time of up to six months. Corporations that help or direct trespassers would face fines up to $200,000. In addition to these increases, a proposed change would increase the maximum amount a court can order for loss of or damage to property from $25,000 to $100,000.
The planned legislation would amend the Petty Trespass Act to add explicit references to better capture land used for crops, animal-rearing and bee-keeping.
A proposed biosecurity regulation under the Animal Health Act would create offences and penalties for people who enter agricultural operations without authorization or encourage others to do so. Such incidents can introduce disease and threaten the welfare of animals.
Cracking down on metal theft
Government has proclaimed the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act to deter metal theft by making it more difficult for criminals to monetize stolen material by selling it for scrap.
Metal theft is a significant public safety risk. Thieves terrify property owners by trespassing and stealing materials such as copper wire and industrial batteries and frequently damage and interfere with critical systems like electrical lines, telecommunications cables and transportation infrastructure.
Criminals often steal metal from property owners and critical infrastructure in isolated areas to avoid detection. This has also made rural Albertans a target of trespassers and thieves looking for metal.
The Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act was passed in 2012, but never proclaimed. An Order in Council signed Nov. 5 puts the legislation into effect immediately.
Regulations outlining requirements on dealers and recyclers to obtain proof of identification from sellers, record and retain details of transactions and share information with law enforcement will be in place by spring 2020. There is also an immediate requirement for scrap metal dealers and recyclers to report any suspected stolen property in their possession to authorities.
A new voice for victims
Community impact statements will recognize the far-reaching effects of a crime and how an entire community can suffer harm or loss.
A new program will enable communities to take part in the sentencing of offenders by letting them submit a statement describing how the crime has affected the community as a whole – including the emotional, physical and economic impact, or fears they may have for their own security.
A community impact statement could be written on behalf of any group of people, such as those in a geographic area, diverse segments of the population, and groups affected by the crime.
Community impact statement forms will be available online in early January.
There will also be additional support for victims, via a new Restitution Recoveries Program. The program will help victims collect outstanding payments on restitution orders by giving government the authority to use enforcement measures against offenders, such as garnishing wages or seizing and selling property, as needed.
This program will reduce red tape for victims who would otherwise have to navigate the legal system and attempt to collect court-ordered restitution at their own risk, effort and expense.
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