Provocative! Petulant! Ignorant! Immature! Arrogant! Amateur!


I trust the opposition will be properly mortifed at this latest affront to productive Sino-Canadian relations.

“Our government believes and has always believed that a mutually beneficial economic relationship is not incompatible with a good and frank dialogue on fundamental values like freedom, human rights and the rule of law,” he told the crowd of 500 business leaders.

“And so, in relations between China and Canada, we will continue to raise issues of freedom and human rights, be a vocal advocate and an effective partner for human rights reform, just as we pursue the mutually beneficial economic relationship desired by both our countries.”

We can only hope the Chinese leadership will find it in their hearts to forgive us.

BACKDATE: The CBC story tucks in a quick recap of the prime minister’s petulant provocations:

Canada-China relations have been frosty since Harper became prime minister in 2006, particularly because of his past comments on China’s human rights record and his public support of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who has been living in exile since China annexed the region in 1958.

Chinese President Hu Jintao also had threatened to call off a meeting between the two leaders in Vietnam in 2006 after Harper criticized China over a case involving Huseyin Celil, a Canadian activist jailed in China for alleged terrorist links. Beijing continues to refuse to allow Canadian consular visits to Celil.

BACKERDATE: Oh, I forgot a couple. Clumsy! Cavalier!


Provocative! Petulant! Ignorant! Immature! Arrogant! Amateur!

  1. "And so, in relations between China and Canada, we will continue to raise issues of freedom and human rights, be a vocal advocate and an effective partner for human rights reform, just as we pursue the mutually beneficial economic relationship desired by both our countries."

    This section of the speech was greeted with silence from the crowd of businessmen, who had applauded previously statements focusing on trade and the removal of protectionist policies.

    Doesn't Harper understand that it's "Amateur City" to utter the H-word (human rights) to a crowd of Chinese business leaders in Shanghai?

    What a faux pas! I am so embarrassed that he is shaming Canada on the world stage like this.

    • Perhaps you should be embarrassed. And so should I, after all we are the once who will bring his highly desired majority to this Flip-Flop Prime Minister.

    • ''..This section of the speech was greeted with silence from the crowd of businessmen…'

      any reaction other than silence was not permitted.

  2. Two links, to cut and pastes, three sentences and we're done for the day.

    • What, are you the official Maclean's employee timekeeper? I hope you're joking because if you're not, it's a pretty ignorant and presumptuous comment.

      • Lighten up.

      • Elizabeth, I hope you realize you're talking to the infamous Tee-Guy – the man whose original screen name cannot even be typed in Maclean's comment section without having the comment auto-deleted. Do not bother trying to argue with him. He's well past insane.

  3. "The Conservative government has backed off in the last year from publicly chiding China, opting instead for more quiet diplomacy, a recognition of China's growing importance as an economic power'

    Looks like Harper has learned something. I have no objectin has to how he's conducting himself on our behalf, but…
    Why have you got your knickers in such a knot AC? Or do you hold the view that the opposition doesn't value HRs at all?

    • Why have you got your knickers in such a knot AC? Or do you hold the view that the opposition doesn't value HRs at all?

      Perhaps Mr. Coyne is annoyed by the fact that most of the Opposition's China-related Harper-bashing has been disingenuous, and frankly ironic.

      • How exactly has it been ironic? Disingenuous maybe…if they value HRs at least as highly or more than Harper they should at least give him some credit here. AC's really pissed because the opposition didn't close ranks with our PM in the face of a closed society…fair enough…except Harper has done nothing to earn anyone's loyalty, so i totally understand their reactions…Harper is reaping what he sowed. I suppose AC is trying to make the point that the opposition should take the high road themselves, rather than get down into the gutter too? Would it have been more statesman like of the opposition to have stood with him?…yes. But i never really suspected AC of political naivete before…why so shocked? Opposition members are just human too!

    • "Why have you got your knickers in such a knot AC?"

      It's just a pose.

    • kcm,
      Harper announced infront of 500 Chinese businessmen, that
      he ''will continue to raise issues of freedom and human rights, be a vocal advocate and an effective partner for human rights reform''

      How is that backing off, publicly?
      It isn't.

      • It was a quote from the article. I'd say it was about right…at least Harper's not behaving like a petulant child on this question anymore. In fact i'm quite impressed at how he has conducted himself.

  4. Well, he's like a bull in a China shop!

  5. An incontrovertible fact.

    The Chinese people are freer today than at any time in their history. Their progress should not only be measured in how far they still have to go but also in how far they have come. In the last 30 years they have made amazing progress. The problem with Mr. Harper's approach is that it does not recognize progress made. Unfortunately for Canada, while China makes measurable progress towards a society which recognizes the importance of the rule of law, under the Harper regime we are headed in the opposite direction.

    • So, then you must be beyond amazement with the progess in Afghanistan since, oh, say 2006,
      The Afghan prisons have turned from dark dens of death to near civilized,
      under a Harper government.

    • Do you people even think before you spew forth this idiocy?

      Yeah, sure, you're living in a police state. I suppose your freedom to make this comment publicly is simply a lapse in judgment by our Conservative overlords.

      • Lessons in reading comprehension really would be a plus for some. I did not say that China has become a Jeffersonian democracy nor did I say that under Harper Canada has become a Stalinist Gulag. I thought I had made it sufficiently clear that what I was noting was the very real progress the Chinese have made since Deng xia peng launched the modernisation campaign. The erosion of Canadian democratic standards under Harper has not yet resulted in a police state (and probably never will I hope) but it is notheless very real and troubling. Bear in mind that I am a small c conservative deeply troubled by what is being done by the extremist right wingers of Harper's ilk. We are fortunate that he has never been given a majority otherwise the erosion of public standards woud be even greater and at some point irreversible.

  6. “I would be less than frank if I did not say directly to you that many
    Canadians are disturbed when we hear reports from your country of
    restrictions on the right to free expression of different political views. And particularly when we hear of people being harassed and imprisoned for expressing political views different from the government.”
    – Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in a speech to the School of Economics and Management of Qinghua University, Beijing, China, November 20, 1998

    The point is, some have more "doigté" than others. I think that the Chinese are p…ed off at Harper for his temper tantrum at the time of the Beijing Olympics.

    • Maybe China are more than a little p.o. at the Harper governments stance on climate change,
      (renamed climategate)….seems to me China was pushing aroung some pretty big players,
      but Harper was the ' last man standing'.

    • Jean Chretien spent a lot of time while in office and a lot of time out of office defending the Chinese thugs in Peking.

      We can trade with China, but surely to goodness we don't have to look the other way while they mistreat their own citizens. That may be the Liberal Party of Canada's style but it ain't the Conservatives MO, thank God.

  7. Beijing continues to refuse to allow Canadian consular visits to Celil.

    If Celil were an Afghan detainee, the Opposition would be having grande mal seizures right about now.

    • Oh, i don't know about that.
      The Libs left Sampson and Arar to rot.
      But they were in government then.

      • And just who exactly has Harper secured from some pestilential dungeon? If it was purely up to les cons Arrar would still be in Syria to this day. He forked over some compensation to Arrar…what else has he done?

      • Nice spin Wilson. Harper and Day were all for convicting Arrar in his absence as i remember it at the time.

        • Liberals were governing thru the entire Arar situation.
          As were they when Sampson was tortured.

          Liberals didn't have any worries about the boy soldier Khadr,
          until they were booted into opposition.

          • Day was claiming Arar was guilty while he was in opposition…Harper probably too. Do some research.

    • Only if we gave Celil to them in the first place.

      • Or, if a Canadian goes to the US and murders someone in cold blood, brags about it on the stand, gets the death penalty he himself asks for. Then we get involved (or would if some people had their way).

        • Nice bit of misrepresentation.
          If you're talking about the Smith case it's the principle that's at stake not Smith's worthiness…which clearly doesn't rate any consideration at all. We don't support the death penalty because it executes innocent individuals as well as the guilty. Personally i don't want an idealogical govt such as this one deciding who lives or who dies…even if Smith seems a slam dunk.

          • What principle is at stake?
            If Smith was locked up in China, Liberals wouldn't say a peep.

          • The fact that you can't see the principle is hardly any surprise to me at all. You're wrong. If Smith was in China they'd still try to get him back…they'd just have a lot less likelihood of success…we do expect so much of our southern cousins…well some of us do.

          • If the principle applies to the US, should it not apply to China? The thing that upsets the human rights folks about Smith is that the Canadian government is not offering him consular/legal assistance. Meanwhile, Celil has been locked up in China for over a year, and hasn't killed anyone, yet they won't allow Canadian consular officials to even make contact. So this "principle" of which you speak sounds like nothing more than a hollow gesture. As long as Canada "tries" in both situations, and makes consular assistance available in both situations, then we're on the right side of principle, even if the murderer gets the assistance and the political dissident doesn't.

            I would say that outcome matters more than principle. If Smith were allowed to serve the rest of his sentence in Canada, he'd be eligible for statutory release immediately. And there's no legal recourse around that. So, just like the Supreme Court ignored "principle" back in 1991 when they sent Charles Ng packing in a 5-4 split decision, it is probably judicious to err on the side of caution with Smith as well and leave him where he is.

  8. grrr spelling!

  9. Call me confused, but I would have thought a world renoun human rights expert like Ignatieff, would have taken Canada's side here.

    So which did Ignatieff abandon,
    human rights or Canada???

  10. Congratulations to Mr. Coyne for speaking out on behalf of human rights–and of free speech, especially–with a straight face. A talent for bitter irony has rarely been as smugly displayed nor been as intimately intertwined with a talent for unconscious self-revelation.

  11. "Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy." J Derbyshire

  12. You did make it sufficiently clear. Reading comprehension classes is what's needed.

    • Ordinarily, I let grammar trip-ups go, unless they are egregious and committed by the professional writers. But if you're gonna go on about reading comprehension, may I suggest you get the writing down pat:

      Reading comprehension classes ARE what's needed.

      • Well, that's it! My writing career is officially down the toilet now.

        I knew there was something wrong . . . where's my editor when I need her?

        • The joy of blogging and commenting is the lack of an editor. The pitfall of blogging and commenting is the very same lack.

  13. My, my…someone's in a state.

  14. Because he is a human rights expert but no necessarily a human rights expert…c'mon Wilson don't you know that by now, lol!

    I thought the PM has done very well on his trip to China.

  15. What democratic standards have eroded under Harper? You'll have to do better than a few blacked out documents.

  16. Was Harper clear that he was only speaking to forms of oppression which do not directly or indirectly provide profit to China's current rulers and elite?

    Otherwise he's a bit of a hypocrite, non?

  17. How about a view to facts…

    Freedom house gives China a 7 on political rights and a 6 on civil liberties (7 being the worst possible score). Canada gets a 1 on both, the highest possible score. Your real problem is that you are lucky to be Canadian, and not smart enough to realize it.

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