Former Ontario minister sides with Beijing, pins Hong Kong protests on ‘outside’ forces

Chan has also been writing a number of op-eds in Chinese media and his rebuttal to a National Post article on his activities in relation to pro-Hong Kong demonstrations was also published in Chinese Canadian media (Dawa Business News, 6 September):

A former Ontario cabinet minister, who held the province’s immigration and international trade portfolios under two Liberal premiers, has denounced acts of violence during the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong as the work of foreign actors intent on undermining the state of China.

Former MPP Michael Chan, in a recent interview with Chinanews, a Chinese state-backed news site, condemned the city’s anti-government protesters and applauded Hong Kong police for showing restraint in the crisis.

His assertions echo the statements by Chinese officials as the protest movement in Hong Kong gathered steam. China has blamed “foreign forces” for manipulating the protests and interfering in Hong Kong affairs.

“I have been thinking, why are these young people so radical, so passionate [and] committed to do these things? And why so many people?” Mr. Chan said in an interview with Chinanews that was published earlier this month.

“If there is no deeply hidden organization in this, or deeply hidden push from the outside, there is no way that such large-scale turmoil would happen in Hong Kong in a few months.”

Mr. Chan served in various portfolios for the Ontario Liberals, including as immigration minister, during his tenure in office between 2007 and 2018.

Last week, in an article posted on Mr. Chan’s public WeChat social-media account, he is quoted as suggesting demonstrators have been trying to enlist the Japanese for help with their cause. The article is titled “Exclusive interview with Michael Chan: Guerrilla actions.”

He said in the article that Japanese media reported an interview with a Hong Kong protest leader who travelled to Japan and mused that “Japan could send a self-defence force on the grounds that they could protect the overseas Japanese.” Mr. Chan went on to say the report was strongly condemned by Hong Kong residents and added that the protest leader has denied ever saying such things.

The protester Mr. Chan referred to, Agnes Chow Ting, stated on her social-media accounts on Sept. 5 that she made no such claims and demanded the Japanese media delete the report.

Any reference to a Japanese military presence in Hong Kong is especially inflammatory among the Chinese community, because of Japan’s brutal treatment of Chinese citizens during the Second World War.

“That protest leader is actually taking the initiative to ask the Japanese army to occupy Hong Kong again in order to guard … ‘freedom and democracy.’ This is incomprehensible,” the article on Mr. Chan’s WeChat page said.

This article was also published under Mr. Chan’s byline at 51.ca, a prominent Chinese-language online publication in Canada.

Efforts to reach Mr. Chan through his public WeChat account were not successful.

Repeated calls and e-mails to Mr. Chan’s lawyers and workplace were not returned to The Globe and Mail. According to the Seneca College website, Mr. Chan sits on the board of governors.

In 2010, Mr. Chan was considered so close to the Chinese consulate in Toronto that Canada’s intelligence agency feared he was at risk of being unduly influenced by foreign officials. A senior intelligence official later met the province’s top bureaucrat to formally caution the province about the minister’s conduct and the risk of foreign influence.

Dalton McGuinty, who was then premier, dismissed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s concerns as baseless and kept Mr. Chan in cabinet. His successor, Kathleen Wynne, similarly dismissed the concerns and said the federal spy agency’s suspicions lacked substance.

CSIS’s concerns about Mr. Chan were never disclosed publicly at the time, nor was Mr. Chan named as the subject of the CSIS briefing. They were revealed in a 2015 report by The Globe.

When asked earlier this September about Mr. Chan’s interview with Chinanews, Ms. Wynne said she hadn’t spoken to Mr. Chan “for months.”

“We are no longer part of a caucus; I haven’t spoken to him for some time. He is a trusted colleague, but I have not had a conversation with him about the issues in Hong Kong, in China.”

After the Globe article appeared in 2015, Mr. Chan said CSIS’s concerns were “ludicrous” and “totally false” and he brought a legal action against The Globe.

“There is a persistent theme that there is a perceived risk that I am under undue influence and that I am an unwitting dupe of a foreign government,” he wrote in an open letter. “This is offensive and totally false.”

When he left politics last year, Mr. Chan joined the law firm Miller Thomson. A spokesperson for the firm said earlier this month that Mr. Chan no longer worked there.

In the Chinanews article, Mr. Chan said the violence in the movement in Hong Kong has been severe, and if there were similar unrest in Western countries, police would have “already fired bullets toward crowds.”

Protesters have accused Hong Kong police of excessive use of force, but Mr. Chan disagreed.

“It’s the opposite,” he stated. He said the restraint and courage of Hong Kong police should be praised, according to the article.

The months of unrest in the Chinese-governed, semi-autonomous city were prompted by a bill that would have allowed people in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China for trial. Many saw the extradition bill as an erosion of rights promised under a “one country, two systems” framework when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The bill was first suspended, but after the tensions in the city kept escalating, Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, announced on Sept. 4 that the government would withdraw the bill.

Hong Kong protesters have said the bill’s withdrawal was too little, too late.

In other remarks in the Chinanews interview, Mr. Chan noted about 300,000 Canadians are living in Hong Kong.

“If the system in Hong Kong is really that unfree, undemocratic, feeble, and bad, then why do these 300,000 (Canadians) live there?

“One country, two systems will not change. If whoever says Hong Kong wants to be independent and separated, then there is no discussion needed. Hong Kong belongs to China. This is unnegotiable.”

Some Chinese Canadians, especially those who have ties to Hong Kong, found Mr. Chan’s remarks appalling.

Gloria Fung, president of Canada-Hong Kong Link, said Mr. Chan’s remarks sound like the Chinese regime’s propaganda.

“It’s very clear that he is not using Canadian values nor the universal values of Western democracies in making all these comments. Rather, he abides by the values of the Chinese Communist Party,” Ms. Fung said. “That is troublesome.”

It was not the first time Mr. Chan publicly supported China’s stand on the Hong Kong issue. Last month, Mr. Chan spoke at a rally in Markham, Ont., expressing support for Hong Kong police, the government and Beijing.

Ms. Fung, who also lives in the Toronto area, said although Mr. Chan has stepped down from the political arena, he is still actively engaged in pro-China events.

The rally, organized by the Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations, attracted a few hundred attendees from the Chinese community. Online pictures and videos show leaflets resembling the Liberal Party’s old paid membership forms were distributed at the event.

Braeden Caley, spokesman for the Liberal Party of Canada, said the party had no involvement at the event. He said Mr. Chan has no formal role in the federal party.

The area that Mr. Chan once represented provincially is now held federally by Small Business Minister Mary Ng. A spokeswoman for Ms. Ng said the minister was aware of the rally, but declined to comment on whether Mr. Chan’s views are shared by many of Ms. Ng’s constituents.

Ms. Ng said in a statement that it is important that the situation in Hong Kong be de-escalated, and there is a diversity of views among Chinese Canadians as to how this can happen.

Source: Former Ontario minister sides with Beijing, pins Hong Kong protests on ‘outside’ forces

Liberal party membership forms distributed at pro-Beijing rally against Hong Kong protests

Look forward to more details emerging:

As speaker after speaker criticized the mass protests in Hong Kong and defended the Chinese government at a Toronto-area rally recently, a different kind of politicking was quietly unfolding.

Several members of the crowd of about 200 passed around and appeared to fill in Liberal membership forms, a striking juxtaposition between Canada’s governing party and backers of China’s Communist regime.

A Liberal spokesman said Thursday the forms looked to be ones that haven’t been used for three years — since the party ended paid memberships — and which would not be accepted today as valid registrations.

And the party had nothing at all to do with the rally, he added.

But critics of the Chinese government say they’re troubled that any kind of Liberal recruiting efforts might have taken place at a pro-Beijing event, calling it more evidence of China’s sway within Canadian politics generally.

“You can see the close connection between the pro-Beijing camp and the Liberal party,” said Gloria Fung of the group Canada-Hong Kong Link. “But … the pro-Beijing camp actually has their people in different federal parties. It’s not only confined to the Liberal party. I can easily name people in the Conservative party who are advocates of the Chinese government’s interests.”

The Aug. 11 rally at King Square shopping centre in Markham featured a number of speakers who portrayed the massive demonstrations in Hong Kong as a dangerous threat to the city’s peace, stability and economy.

The protests have brought as many as a million or more people to the streets for the past 11 weeks, decrying a law that would have allowed extradition to mainland China, calling for the investigation of alleged police brutality and demanding democratic reforms. Some have become violent.

Speakers at the Markham event included Michael Chan, who until last year was an Ontario Liberal cabinet minister.

Chinese-language media reports had said Han Dong, another former MPP who is now running for the federal Liberal nomination in Toronto’s Don Valley North riding, would also attend. One of the event’s moderators mentioned his name, too. But Dong issued a statement latersaying neither he nor any of his campaign team were at the rally. He could not be reached for comment.

Recruiting new members is a timeworn way for would-be candidates to win party nominations.

John Yuen, a Toronto-based supporter of the Hong Kong democracy movement attended the Markham rally to observe, and said he videotaped people passing around forms bearing the Liberal logo.

In the video, posted on Facebook, some of the audience members begin filling out the papers.

Photographs taken by another observer at the rally, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Wilfred, provide a closer look at the form. It appears to be the same as one that was available for download from the Liberal website as recently as Wednesday evening. The National Post asked about the incident Thursday morning, and the download page had been disabled by the afternoon.

The form, which includes payment options, has not been used since 2016, when the federal Liberals decided to make membership in the party free, said spokesman Braeden Caley.

“Those images do not appear to be authentic Liberal registration forms, and they would not be accepted as valid by the party,” he said. “The Liberal Party of Canada was not involved in the event … in any respect.”

Canadians can now join the party without charge by registering online.

Regardless, the presence of partisan political activity at the event raised eyebrows within the Chinese-Canadian community.

“I was very alarmed,” said Fenella Sung of the group Canadian Friends of Hong Kong, who suggested the Liberal party investigate how it happened.

Fung of Canada-Hong Kong Link said she sees the incident as more evidence of Beijing’s attempts to involve itself in Canadian politics, an important issue with an election looming.

“I consider this to be a major threat to our democracy,” she said

Source: Liberal party membership forms distributed at pro-Beijing rally against Hong Kong protests

Former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister headlines pro-Beijing rally near Toronto

Sigh.

If I recall correctly, former Minister Chan was the implicit example of a provincial cabinet minister when former CSIS Director Fadden warned about Canadian politicians being “agents of influence” or “secret supporters.” in 2010:

As protesters continued to surge through the streets of Hong Kong to press for greater freedoms, a former Canadian cabinet member offered a much different viewpoint — just outside Toronto.

Michael Chan, Ontario’s Liberal trade minister until last year, was a keynote speaker as scores of Chinese Canadians rallied in support of Beijing and the largely non-democratic Hong Kong administration.

“Unity is better than violence,” Chan proclaimed. “We support Hong Kong’s police strictly handling unrest, Hong Kong’s government carefully defending the rule of law, China’s government carefully observing Hong Kong,”

The event Chan headlined was part of what appears to be a worldwide effort to rally the Chinese diaspora against the Hong Kong demonstrators, whose prolonged, mass movement has offered a surprising challenge to Beijing.

In downtown Toronto on Saturday, a parade of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other super cars driven by China supporters waving People’s Republic flags contributed to a noisy — if bizarre — counter protest, as backers of the Hong Kong democracy advocates struggled to be heard.

Similar clashes have occurred in Australia and Vancouver, where on Sunday China loyalists surrounded a church holding a prayer session for the Hong Kong demonstrators.

They come as Chinese President Xi Jinping expands the role of the United Front Work Department, a party offshoot whose mission includes influencing ethnic Chinese and political elites in foreign countries.

There is no direct evidence that Chinese officials are behind the various pro-Beijing activities, but critics of the regime argue their fingerprints are everywhere.

“I definitely, 100 per cent believe these kind of actions are organized by the Chinese communist regime in Beijing,” says Sheng Xue, a prominent Toronto-based journalist and activist.

And the opposing demonstrations indicate the Chinese-Canadian community is far from united in defence of Hong Kong’s China-backed government.

Many of those in the Toronto and Vancouver counter–protests appeared to be visiting mainland Chinese students — one of whom said on social media he was prepared to be deported if necessary — while some at the rally with Chan were paid $100 to attend, according to one community source.

Those supporting the protesters are predominately from Hong Kong, and take to the streets free of any government support, argued Gloria Fung, whose Hong Kong-Canada Link group held the Toronto demonstration.

“We came forward spontaneously, without any vested interest,” she said.

But an organizer of the Toronto counter-protest said he had no backing from the local consulate, and was simply reacting to violence perpetrated by Hong Kong “seditionists.” Excerpts of posts from his group on the Chinese-owned WeChat site were obtained by the National Post.

“Comrades, we have a five thousand year history of honouring our ancestors, pride in our people, unbreakable spirit and I hope everyone can turn out,” said the organizer, calling himself TonY. “We are unlike the Hong Kong seditionists, we don’t have any hidden hand behind us, we have no leaders. All we have are patriotic hearts and patriotic integrity moving us forward.”

In the same WeChat group, a user named Biubiu says before the counter-protest that “We’ve all made preparations to get deported.” Another, called Shele, adds “For country … for party … Always prepared to sacrifice for Communism.”

The protests in Hong Kong have repeatedly seen a million or more people take to the streets over the past 11 weeks. The rallies started as a reaction to a proposed law allowing extradition from the enclave to mainland China, but have expanded to also decry police brutality, and call for democratic reform.

While most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, China and its supporters have seized on those that became violent.

In fact, an unsigned Chinese-language memo circulating on social media offers talking points for people living in foreign countries, said Fung, who believes it is a Communist document. Among other points, the note suggests portraying the protests as a struggle between patriots and separatists, peace and violence and the rule of law and rioting, she said.

Perhaps the strangest manifestation of the pro-China position came on Saturday in Toronto, when several supporters of the Chinese Communist Party showed up in high-priced sports cars, revving their engines as the pro-democracy rally unfolded.

They seemed to be saying “I have money, but I am ‘patriotic. I’m loyal to China,’ ” said Fenella Sung of the group Canadian Friends of Hong Kong. ” ‘We can just roll over you.’ That’s the message.”

According to Chinese-language media reports, the event Chan spoke at on Aug. 12 in Markham, Ont., was partly organized by the Toronto Confederation of Chinese Canadian Organizations, a group that has often worked closely with Beijing’s local consulate.

Coverage of the Aug. 12 event at Markham’s King Square mall includes photographs of a number of Chinese-Canadian organizations, including a purported Tibetan group that Tibetan-community leaders say is essentially a Beijing front.

One source in the Toronto-area Chinese-Canadian community says members of a seniors group were each paid $100 to attend the rally, something the Post could not confirm independently.

Chan’s speech described Hong Kong’s growth from a fishing village to a powerful international business and trade centre, before urging authorities there to take a firm hand with the protests.

Sung said his presence at the event suggests a lack of respect for basic Canadian values of freedom and democracy.

The former Liberal MPP, who resigned before last year’s Ontario election and is now a business adviser for the Miller Thomson law firm, could not be reached for comment.

Reports before the event suggested that Han Dong, another former MPP who is running for the federal Liberal nomination in Don Valley North riding, would also attend. But Dong later issued a statement saying neither he nor anyone on his team was there.

Source: Former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister headlines pro-Beijing rally near Toronto

Federal Liberals cultivate Mandarin powerhouse in GTA

This is not good, by any standard, relying exclusively on one ethnic community to win party nominations.

Even if in ethnic communities like Surrey, Richmond, Brampton, Markham etc, most candidates from all parties are from the largest community as part of “Shopping for Votes,” this is not an example to be emulated.

And as noted in the article, this may not help in the election when more than one community’s votes are needed:

By either grand design or ferocious grassroots organization, Toronto’s suburbs are shaping up to be a Mandarin-speaking powerhouse for the federal Liberal Party.

Four ridings around the GTA have Chinese-Canadians candidates, and in sharp contrast to the Conservatives’ top-down ethnic strategy of wooing voters through messaging that appeals to a specific minority, the Mandarin community is fielding its own candidates. In Don Valley North’s nomination contest, scientist Geng Tan upset presumed front-runner Rana Sarkar, a veteran party member and friend of Gerald Butts, Leader Justin Trudeau’s top adviser. Mr. Geng accomplished this by appealing almost solely to a monolithic base of Mandarin-speakers in Mandarin only.

On one hand, this trend represents the essence of the multicultural experiment. Arnold Chan, elected in Scarborough-Agincourt last month, is the GTA’s first Liberal Chinese MP. On the other hand, pursuing a single group for support, as Mr. Geng appears to have done, may alienate other minorities. It strikes critics as anti-pluralistic.

A pivotal figure in this wider political development is Michael Chan, an influential Ontario cabinet minister and fundraiser who stepped outside his daily sphere during June’s provincial election to bolster his community’s voice in the federal party. Mr. Chan’s involvement, along with the number of Chinese-Canadian candidates, indicates the growing demographic power of the Mandarin vote, whose participation has long been seen as dormant. The Conservatives and New Democrats have vowed to conduct open nominations as well – meaning the party leadership does not protect its preferred candidates – clearing the way for other ethnic groups to launch similar campaigns.

In the case of Mr. Geng’s campaign, his website was mostly in Mandarin and was changed to English only after a conversation with The Globe and Mail last week. His membership list, which The Globe reviewed, was composed exclusively of Chinese names.

Federal Liberals cultivate Mandarin powerhouse in GTA – The Globe and Mail.

Ont. minister denounces ‘hateful’ anti-immigrant flyers; police investigating

More on the flyer by Immigration Watch (Anti-immigration flyers single out Sikh community in Brampton):

Michael Chan says in a statement that he is “disgusted” by the flyers in the city northwest of Toronto and that “there is no room in our province for intolerance, hatred or division on cultural or racial lines.

The document shows a crossed-out picture of a man wearing a turban alongside text asking readers to “Say ‘No’ to the massive Third World invasion of Canada.”

Ont. minister denounces ‘hateful’ anti-immigrant flyers; police investigating – The Globe and Mail.