Canada Day, 2015. Mahsie, Nika Illahie.

Further to my Canada Day column Finding the Right Words for Canada’s History I thought I’d put this up. It’s from Rain Language, a long poem in translation, the last poem I ever wrote. It was in dedication to the memory of the great Charles “Red” Lillard, poet laureate of the Sitka Biome, with whom I collaborated in this book: A Voice Great Within Us.

For the more cerebral among you, George Lang undertook an expedition into the poem that appears as a chapter in the collection Translation Effects: The Shaping of Modern Canadian Culture.

My thanks to Bernard von Schulmann for making Rain Language digital. Rain Language runs to eight sections over 17 pages; the first three sections should give you a sense of the thing, so here you go. Happy Canada Day nika tillicums, and mahsie to all those now long memaloost who made the greatness of this country possible.



Yaka yiem halo kliminawhit,
This is a true story
Waum illahie klip sun, kopa Byrne Oakut,
On a late summer evening on Byrne Road
kimta tenas wahm snass chako,
after a gentle summer rain,
Spose hyack colley konmokst chikchik, Ford pe Chevrolet,
in a race between a Ford and Chevrolet,
spose Ford tolo kopa tenas-sitkum mile
if the Ford won the the quarter mile
pe Ford man mamook klahwa,
and the Ford guy slowed down
kopet cooley, yaka halo mamook fly
soon enough to avoid going airborne
oakut opoots,
at the end of the road,
Ford, yaka skookum chikchik.
then the Ford was the skookum car.
Nawitka, Ford skookum chikchik
A right skookum car.

Yaka yiem halo kliminawhit.
This is a true story.
Spose mika hiyu mamook,
If you had a job
pe chickamin sun chako
and it was pay day
pe mike halo mahkook lum kopa tillicums,
and you still didn’t buy a round,
mika mitlite cultus bastard.
you were a cultus bastard.
Nawitka, cultus bastard.
A right cultus bastard.
Saltchuk, yaka mitlite saltchuk,
The oceans was the saltchuk,
klootchman kopa mika tillicum
your buddy’s girlfriend
yaka mitlite klootchman,
was his klootchman,
pe kopa okoke oakut, lelang mitlite
and this is how the language lingers
yukwa pe yahwa.
here and there.
Yaka mitlite kopa tenas wawa
It is in the little words
pe ole shantie.
and old songs.

Hyas Tlakowa nika
     I am so happy
Spose steamboat klatawa yukwa
     When the steamboat arrives,
Tlonas nika cly
     I think I will weep
Spose steamboat klatawa.
     When the steamboat leaves.


Alta nika potlach wawa kopa okoke pepah.
Now I will talk to you about this picture.
Yaka klatawa kopa stick
He went into the woods
mamook tzum.
to write.
Snass chako.
It was raining.
Yaka mitlite halo tamahnous.
He had no Guardian Spirit.
Kopa Nemiah, Mabel Solomon mamook le di.
Up in Nemiah, Mabel Solomon brewed up le di.
Le di.
Huloima klawhap mitlite kopa illahie,
There were strange pits in the ground,
konoway kah,
pe olemans pe ole klootchmans mamook wawa
and the old Chilcotin people called them
keekweelie holes.
giggly holes.
Okoke wawa, klaska wawa kopa
It is their word for
keekweelie houses.
underground houses.
Kopa ole yiem, yahwa mitlite t’kope man
In old stories, there is a white man
cloosh sakolleks, cloosh pasesse
in a fine suit of clothes
pa yaka nem mitlite Lejaub.
and his name is Lejaub.
The Devil.
Kopa okoke oakut, lelang mitlite,
That is the way the language lingers,
yukwa pe yahwa
here and there.
Halo chako, halo mahsh,
Not arriving, not leaving,
kopa tenas wawa.
in little words.
Wake siah kahkwa kwass leloo,
Not quite like the fear of wolves,
halo kahkwa snass kopa Bella Coola,
not like the rain at Bella Coola,
yaka mitlite nawitka kiuatan chako tseepie
more like the horse that was lost
kopa Snow Mountains,
in the Snow Mountains,
kiuatan nesika nanitch kopa stick
the one we would see through the trees
tenas hiyu times
now and then
kopa tenas lamonti klahanie Tsunia.
in the hills beyond Tsunia.
Yaka mitlite tenas wawa,
It is in little words,
pe ole shantie.
and old songs.

 Tlonas kahta nika tumtum
          I do not know how my heart feels
     Nika nanitch klatawa Godsroad klatawa
          I have seen the steamer Godsroad leaving
     Pe chali mitlite, pe tlakawa nika.
          With Charlie aboard, and I am sad


Ahnkuttie, yaka mitlite nesika lelang,
Once, it was our language,
nawitka nesika oakut
our own way
to dance,
to want, to love,
mamook mesachie,
to curse,
mamook polaklie,
to darken,
pe mamook skookum light.
and to make bright.
Alta, yukwa mitlite ketling,
Now, there is a kettle here,
keekweelie powitsh stick,
under the crabapple trees,
pil ilta kopa chickamin chako halo ikta.
rusting to nothing.
eneti kullaghan,
on the other side of the fence,
kokshut leshaloo
a broken plough
mitlite kow kopa klale ollallie.
is tangled in the blackberries.
Yaka mitlite kopa kopet tenas coulees kopa nesika illahie,
It is only the little places of our country,
kopa snass,
in the rain,
pe ole shantie.
and in old songs

Konoway sun nika cly,
     Always, I weep,
Siah Illahie nika mitlite alta;
     Far away is my country now;
Konoway sun nika cly.
     Always, I weep.
Siah illahie nika mitlite alta.
     Far away is my country now.

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The Shock and Awe of 2013: “Knowing What We Know Now. . .”

“Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion of Iraq?” For my column this week, I figured, what the heck, I’m going to say “yes.”

I say “yes” and I didn’t even support the invasion at the time – I point that out here not to satisfy that preposterous requisite of political-hygiene bona fides that one is required to display before entering any conversation about Shock and Awe. I do so to draw attention to just how ridiculous the question is. For starters.

I don’t say “yes” in the way that Charles Krauthammer does, to argue that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 ended in “victory,” that “Bush bequeathed to Obama a success,” which Obama then squandered. Which actually isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds.

I say “yes” partly to toy with the idea: “Knowing what we know now” back in 2003 would mean knowing in advance the consequences of every calamitous decision that was to come. . . To be blessed with such magical powers of clairvoyance would have been to know which decisions not to make, from the small ones – don’t send a column of Humvees down that road, it’s mined with IEDs – to the big ones – hey, let’s not put the 320th Military Police Battalion in charge of that prison at Abu Ghraib. Even the really big mistakes could have been foreseen and avoided. 

But I say “yes” mainly to point out that the anti-interventionists who prevailed with the rise of Barack Obama and David Cameron and Angela Merkel have absolutely nothing to crow about.

“Knowing what we know now” about Iraq in 2003, what do we do? We trade the fundamental human rights of the Iranian people for the shambles of a nuclear deal with the ayatollahs. We confront the Islamic State’s rampaging barbarism with a small, mostly air-power coalition that has no intention of victory. We allow Bashar Assad, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Quds Force and Hezbollah to wage war on the Syrian people. Total cost to date: Afghanistan survives by the skin of its teeth. Libya no longer exists. Iraq is a failed state in all but name. Khomeinist Iran has never been so confidently ambitious. In Syria alone: more than 225,000 dead, nearly 10 million homeless, three million refugees, and a reconstruction bill the World Bank last year pegged at $200 billion and counting.

All that, too, is “what we know now,” so a little less bragging, please. Besides, foaming at the mouth about yesteryear’s shadowy neoconservatives is unbecoming at the best of times.

There’s also this formula demanded by the revisionist orthodoxy: Bu$h Lied = People Died. It’s rubbish. You want lies about 9-11, Iraq and everything after? I nominate the entire IMDb of American docu-huckster Michael Moore. I had a go at him a while back here. But this is way better, here.

Another ubiquitous falsehood runs along the lines that Libya’s current nightmares are the direct result of NATO’s air-power intervention in defence of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising against the decrepit and blood-soaked Gaddafi regime. To believe that, you will have to avert your gaze from the truth that Libya’s democratic dreams were crushed only after the fact, when the NATO countries betrayed and abandoned the Libyan revolution “because no one wanted to participate in an enterprise that might appear neocolonial.”

The distortion that has made perhaps the greatest mischief in the work of coming to a clear understanding of Shock and Awe is the boast (what else to call it?) that the Euro-American “anti-war” paradigm that is now ascendant and dominant in the NATO capitals is genuinely “progressive.” It isn’t. It’s narcissism in the place where hard-headed liberal-democratic internationalism should be. It’s a substitution for robust left-wing analysis and activism. It isn’t even legitimately anti-war. The brave Syrian revolutionary Yassin Al-Haq Saleh puts it this way:

I am afraid that it is too late for the leftists in the West to express any solidarity with the Syrians in their extremely hard struggle.What I always found astonishing in this regard is that mainstream Western leftists know almost nothing about Syria, its society, its regime, its people, its political economy, its contemporary history. . . Syria is only an additional occasion for their old anti-imperialist tirades, never the living subject of the debate. So they do not really need to know about us. . . We, rank-and-file Syrians, refugees, women, students, intellectuals, human rights activists, political prisoners … do not exist.

That was true and remains true in the case of the “Left” and Afghanistan as well. It’s fair enough to claim that in its prosecution of Shock and Awe and everything afterwards the Bush administration made an unpardonable hash of it. It’s also fair to claim that we cannot really know whether things would have been better or worse had Saddam Hussein been allowed to remain unmolested in Baghdad. War is never “the answer.” But if you claim that the world would be better now had we left Afghanistan in the clutches of Mullah Omar’s Talibs and his international jihadist accomplices, there must be something seriously wrong with you. Whatever it is, all the post-colonial studies degrees in the world won’t cure it.

“We could play this game all day,” my chum Michael Totten points out in a very kind response to my column in World Affairs Journal. Michael sets out a few “what would you do back then knowing what you know now” games, this way: “Why not ask the same question about Syria? Or the wars on drugs and poverty. The decision to build public housing blocks in Cabrini-Green. Staying out of World War II until after the Empire of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Putting New Orleans below sea level. Building a house where ‘we now know’ an F-5 tornado would touch down five years later. Electing George W. Bush president. Electing Barack Obama president. Picking Sarah Palin as a running mate. Buying a lottery ticket that ‘we now know’ was a bust.”

Ishmael N. Daro played the game a few days ago in the National Post to splendidly amusing effect, in the form of the Let’s Go Back In Time and Kill Hitler game: “The biggest hurdle to overcome would be the paradoxes inherent in changing the past. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Grandfather Paradox, which posits that going back in time to kill your own grandfather would prevent your own birth, thereby making it impossible for you to kill your grandfather. But there’s also a Killing Hitler paradox, in which your decision to snuff out little Adolf’s life in the crib would erase your own motivation for travelling back in time to kill him. There’s also a good chance we’re already past the point of no return. . .”

All of which is fun and games, but it’s a bit dreary, so here’s the Ottawa boy Norm MacDonald to take it out:



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My Heart Tonight Is Far Away, Across The Rolling Sea.

This moment is not a gift from Ireland to LGBT community. It’s the other way round. Thanks for making us proud of ourselves again. – Fintan O’Toole.

It is an historic occasion, of course: The first time a country has put the question of gay marriage to a national referendum. But it is a vanishingly tiny event, and yet somehow an enormous, epochal moment. It is not just that the overwhelmingly Catholic Irish voted Tá, Comhionannas – Yes, Equality – it’s that the Yes vote came out of the lace-curtain districts of South Dublin as well as Dublin’s working class districts of Darndale and Ballymun, and it was Tá in my late dad’s hills around Midleton and Glanmire in East Cork and in the old Barony of Upper Tulla in East Clare around my mum’s family’s farm, between Bodyke and Tuamgraney.

My column this week was in anticipation of it. If the Yes side wins on Friday, the great cause that Daniel O’Connell championed will not be betrayed. It will be vindicated. The Emancipation of 1826 will at last count within its embrace those who were “stamped by the Creator with no inferiority,” and yet were set apart even so by Ireland’s 1937 constitution as aliens and outcasts. Tá, comhionannas — Yes, equality — would stand not only as an overdue triumph in the cause of the emancipation of the Catholic Irish. It would stand as well as another small assurance, a tiny bit of hope, that the unjustly treated, everywhere, will one day win.

While I’m at it here’s from my column last weekWell thanks a lot, Alan Borovoy, you noodge. Now of all times you choose to die. Grand old man of Canadian liberty. Scourge of racist bosses, bullying speech codes and the state’s outrages against equality, fair play and decency. Five rough-and-tumble decades of struggle since the days of Africville in Nova Scotia. And just when we needed the moral clarity of your voice the most, just when the principles you spent your life defending have started to sink in a swamp of nonsense and incoherence, you decide to leave us.

I’ll leave the last word to Una MullallyThe decency of the Irish people was not limited to the liberal leafy suburbs of Dublin, nor the solidarity from the flats, but that decency came from the cliffs of Donegal, the lakes of Cavan, the farmyards of Kildare, the lanes of Kerry. . . I burst into tears after I voted yesterday.

I am happy to join a great many people from all over the earth who are thanking you for this, Ireland. Go raibh maith agaibh.

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“Tens of Billions” In Beijing Lucre Blowback: The Backstory

The smartass headline is because I’m trying to amuse myself after being rather let down by Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson’s shop on Wednesday. Having provided roughly 24 hours lead time I was assured of a fulsome response by my column deadline. Three hours before my deadline I even got this assurance: “Will also have Justice and RCMP response for you”. Then dead air. Then several unreturned calls. Then six hours after deadline, a response that contained  less information than I already had, less than what is already on the public record, and less than what our ambassador to China was happy to disclose even to the Beijing regime’s China Daily five months ago.

It just so happens that a great deal hinges on the obsequious accommodation that Ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques publicly presented to soothe the passions of President Xi Jinping’s ongoing “anti-corruption” frenzy, which leaves every appearance of being just as much an old-style Stalinist purge and a cunning world-order shakedown, besides.

That’s something I look into in my column in the Ottawa Citizen.

Whatever Canada is offering (and what would that be, precisely, Minister Nicholson?) may well determine whether Canada’s Conservatives (and even more so their Liberal Party predecessors) have left Canadians on the hook for “tens of billions of dollars” in money forfeitures and asset seizures, or perhaps some smaller number of billions. We’re already cooperating, but just how enthusiastically will depend on the details of a 2013 agreement John Baird struck when he was foreign minister. The arrangement would conscript Canada’s official help in Beijing’s maneuverings to recover some of the vast sums of cash its corrupt officials have spirited out of the country in recent years. In return, Canada would get a cut of the action. Like in the Sopranos.

Bay Street’s tough-as-nails money laundering specialist Christine Duhaime tells me that no matter how the arrangement shakes out, it will be “a major monetary drain on the Canadian economy.” Brock University’s China specialist Charles Burton tells me our arrangements wtih Beijing have already drawn down the value of the stuff in Canada’s soul.

Beijing cannot be trusted to be straight with us about the evidence against any of characters facing corruption charges back to China. Which one is truly a corrupt official on the lam with hundreds of millions of stolen yuan? Which one is just an out-crowd Communist Party sap unfortunate enough to have been crossed by an in-crowd Communist Party boss in some real-estate swindle that went sideways? “I don’t know why we agreed to this,” Professor Burton told me.

Neither do I, neither do you, and none of us are even allowed to know what it is we have agreed to, exactly, or what our bottom line might be in some agreement we may or may not yet ratify.

Backstory: Yes, that’s Michael Ching, vice-president of the  Canada Asia Pacific Business Association (top left), in a 2011 group photo with former federal Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff. The South China Morning Post’s intrepid Ian Young reports that Michael Ching is Beijing’s “Most Wanted” fugitive Cheng Muyang, whose family’s faction has been on the outs of China’s ruling circles for some while now. Ching’s dad was a party bigshot and chairman of the Hebei People’s Congress until corruption charges brought him low a few years back.

So Ching is a Liberal supporter, so what? And what has he done to deserve being sent back to China? It turns out that Ching has tried and failed to win refugee status in Canada, and his court fight is ongoing. He says the evidence against him was procured by torture. In an email exchange reported by the Vancouver Sun’s Peter O’Neil, Ching noted: “In a power struggle, some members of the Chinese Communist Party would use its legal system to get rid of their political enemies.” And by the way, Ching has also contributed to Conservative Party war chests.

Backstory: John Baird, having resigned his post as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs only a couple of months ago, has lately signed on as an adviser to Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li, scion of Li Ka-shing’s $33.7 billion global empire, which includes the Calgary-based Husky Energy conglomerate. The senior Mr. Li, whose tight connections with Beijing’s ruling party elites helped launch him into the big-money stratosphere, is now officially on the outs of President Xi Jinping’s increasingly hardcore clique of Leninist state capitalists.

Canadians can laugh at themselves, though. Remember when China’s billionaires were going to pave Canada’s gateway to energy security and prosperity? Seems like only yesterday we were telling ourselves that. It’s sobering to be reminded that the personal net worth of delegates to last month’s National People’s Congress and its affiliated Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing was roughly $576 billion. More than 200 of the delegates were billionaires, and it’s on their behalf that President Xi has “redoubled efforts to criminalize online speech, silence journalists, and strengthen the ideological training of university lecturers, academic researchers, and Party members” since coming to power three years ago.

But tucking oneself away in some lucrative China-trade sinecure has long been a favoured career option for Canada’s politicians and mandarins, and the custom is likely to continue. The Liberals cleared the path, starting in the days of Prime Minster Pierre Trudeau, and Pierre’s son Justin, who now leads the party, is happy to carry on the family tradition of uttering dizzy expressions of admiration for the Chinese police state.

There’s the odd case of David Emerson, a Liberal who crossed the floor to become a Conservative trade minister, then landed on a big fluffy cushion at the international advisory board of the $300-billion China Investment Corporation. There’s the odder case of Stockwell Day, a Conservative Minister for “Asia Pacific Gateway,” treasury Board president and International Trade minister before moving on to the board of the Beijing-busy McMillan LLP and a gig as “distinguished fellow” with the Asia Pacific Foundation. Peter Harder was a deputy Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister before heading up the Canada China Business Council. Canada’s Ambassador to China, Howard Balloch, went on to set up one of China’s five leading “boutique investment” banks.

Before Communist Party bigshot Bo Xilai’s villa in France and other stolen comforts got him a life sentence in jail, he was already Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s “old friend.” Then Chretien moved on to serve as a Power Corp lobbyist in China. Among the Power Corp’s Desmarais family, the Carolingians  of the old Liberal Party, there was Chrétien’s son-in-law André, on the board of CITC Pacific Ltd., and Andre’s father Paul, founding chairman of the Canada-China Business Council.

These are the sorts of assignations that have put Canada in its current predicament. These are among the indecencies that Anthony Campbell, the former head of the Intelligence Assessment Secretariat of the Privy Council Office, was talking about a while back when he told me: “We’re sitting ducks.”

These are among the reasons Demographia International ranks Vancouver second to last in a global survey of 378 cities on its Housing Affordability Survey, and why it was that by the time Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were settling into their majority in 2011 there were 300,000 Canadian passport holders in Hong Kong and another 20,000 or so in Mainland China, and nobody knows where all the money went or why Canada’s refugees have contributed more to the federal treasury in tax revenue than the entire immigrant investor-class contribution all these years.

Neither is it unrelated that last summer a half million people poured into the streets of Hong Kong and President Xi’s police-state censors were blocking and filtering the stirring news in a massive effort to keep China’s 1.3 billion people in the dark about what was happening. Just why it is that Canadians remain largely in the dark about the depths of their own government’s backstairs relationships with China’s princeling elites should be obvious by now.

But I’ll probably return to the subject down the road for further exploration anyway.


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You Have Come To The Attention Of The Authorities. . .

My column this week is about how Canada’s Unhappiest City owes much of its foul mood to Ottawa’s disastrous courtship of China’s lucre-laden princelings (National Post, Ottawa Citizen) through the scandalous Immigrant Investor Program. It’s been an elaborate swindle from the beginning, and last year it accounted for perhaps half the dollar value of Vancouver’s detached-housing sales.

The day my column appeared, Beijing’s dreaded Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) published a Most Wanted poster containing the names and faces of 100 alleged scoundrels on the lam – 26 are said to have fled to Canada. The CCDI wants foreign governments to send the fugitives home to face charges of embezzlement, bribe-taking, corruption, money laundering, and so on. Beijing’s Operation Skynet, which is part fraud-squad mobilization, part party purge and part overseas muscle-flexing shakedown, has dispatched its agents to rummage through Unhappy Vancouver’s real estate transaction records.

Hours later, Vancouver Mayor Gregor “Happy Planet” Robertson got entangled in it with the news that the Harbin Communist Party official Qu Zhang Mingjie has been imprisoned on corruption charges related to the sale of state assets at “fire sale prices.” Qu Zhang Mingjie is the mother of the woman Robertson calls his sweetheart – the pop star Wanting Qu, who was appointed Tourism Vancouver’s “ambassador” to China two years ago after hooking up with Mayor Robertson as an “influencer” in a vote-fishing social media campaign. Wanting boasts about 500,000 followers on China’s Facebook-like Weibo network.

Beijing’s Skynet operation is a follow-up to last year’s “Fox Hunt” campaign, which is reported to have identified 428 scamps who absconded to more than 60 countries. Nearly half the party bigshots, state executives and other such swells on that list turned themselves in. This week’s Most Wanted list, which deftly avoids naming anyone too-embarrassingly prominent, is in no small way a Beijing maneuver to arm-twist enforcement collaboration from Canada, the U.S., Australia and other countries that have sensibly avoided signing extradition treaties with the Chinese police state.

The CCDI website has headshots and background information on 100 wanted fugitives in Operation Sky Net. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Canada’s unhappy affair with China’s princeling millionaires

Terry Glavin, April 22, 2015, National Post, Ottawa Citizen.

. . . By the time Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were settling into their majority in 2011, there were 300,000 Canadian passport holders in Hong Kong and another 20,000 or so in Mainland China.

During the 21st century’s first decade, more than 18,000 Chinese state-enterprise executives were busted for siphoning money out of China in fake joint ventures, underground money shops masquerading as overseas-study agencies, phony service gambits and dummy offshore subsidiary accounts. The People’s Bank of China reckons that $126 billion was pilfered in these ways during that decade, and Canadian real estate, especially property in Metro Vancouver, was one of the main places the money was ending up.

Thus the unhappiness, all occurring right under Parliament’s nose. To give you a sense of how absurdly the taboo had throttled Canadian debates it’s instructive to recall the rubbish that was uttered when Harper finally got around to shutting it all down last year with a resolve to start from scratch. Vancouver MP Don Davies, the New Democrats’ international trade critic, accused the government of “damaging Canada’s economy and trade relationships.” Then there was Liberal warhorse John McCallum (Markham—Unionville): “Are Conservatives inadvertently picking on Chinese people?”

About that taboo, this is from a directly related column I wrote last August: The Continuing Corruption from Beijing’s Dirty Money:

An enduring feature of dirty-money corruption is that it entrenches itself in a society in inverse proportion to a willingness to talk openly about it. Much credit is owed, then, to those brave Chinese-Canadians in Vancouver who are now confronting the ugly and debate-squashing insinuations of “sinophobia” that await anyone who dares to draw the connection between Chinese lucre and the city’s sky-high property prices.

The public debates leading up to Harper’s 2012 decision to bar Chinese state-owned enterprises from taking over Canadian oil companies were similarly marred by the “sinophobia” slur, in that instance by the disingenuous conflation of legitimate concerns about Beijing’s acquisition of key Canadian energy-sector spigots with raw bigotries about Chinese people. . .

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Document No. 9 and the Persecution of Gao Yu.

As a tribute to the brave 71-year-old Chinese journalist Gao Yu, what follows below is the text of Concerning the Situation in the Ideological Sphere.  It is the incendiary state-secret document that Gao has just been sentenced to seven years in prison for having released to the foreign press, following what can only be understood as a trumped-up charge, an unfair trail and false conviction.

The Beijing regime is acknowledging the document’s existence only now, by reference, in Gao’s sentencing. Enumerating a series of warnings that expose the increasingly regressive and thuggish despotism of the ruling Communist Party, the April 2003 document came to be called Document No. 9 because it was ninth communiqué the Communist Party General Office had circulated that year.

Document No. 9 warns that in the course of any state-authorized “economic” reform, party and government officials are to strive against and steer clear of any clamoring for free speech, free thought or democracy. Specifically, officials are instructed against such “false” positions as: independent political parties, the rule of law, elections, judicial independence, universal values, “western” human rights, a free press, “neo-liberal” capitalism, critical assessments of Chinese history, debate and dissent, and the integrity of civil society.

Be brave, dear Gao. Be strong.


Communiqué Concerning the Situation in the Ideological Sphere (Document No. 9) 

While fully approving of the ideological mainstream, we must also clearly see the ideological situation as a complicated, intense struggle. Currently, the following false ideological trends, positions, and activities all deserve note:

1. Promoting Western Constitutional Democracy: An attempt to undermine the current leadership and the socialism with Chinese characteristics system of governance.

Western Constitutional Democracy has distinct political properties and aims. Among these are the separation of powers, the multi-party system, general elections, independent judiciaries, nationalized armies, and other characteristics. These are the capitalist class’ concepts of a nation, political model, and system design. The concept of constitutional democracy originated a long time ago, and recently the idea has been hyped ever more frequently.

This is mainly expressed the following ways: In commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the enactment of the [Chinese] Constitution, [some people] hold up the banners of “defending the constitution” and “rule of law.” They attack the Party’s leaders for placing themselves above the constitution, saying China “has a constitution but no constitutional government.” Some people still use the phrase “constitutional dream” to distort the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, saying things like “constitutional democracy is the only way out” and “China should catch up with the rest of the world’s trend toward constitutional governance.” The point of publicly proclaiming Western constitutional democracy’s key points is to oppose the party’s leadership and implementation of its constitution and laws. Their goal is to use Western constitutional democracy to undermine the Party’s leadership, abolish the People’s Democracy, negate our country’s constitution as well as our established system and principles, and bring about a change of allegiance by bringing Western political systems to China.

2. Promoting “universal values” in an attempt to weaken the theoretical foundations of the Party’s leadership.

The goal of espousing “universal values” is to claim that the West’s value system defies time and space, transcends nation and class, and applies to all humanity.

This is mainly expressed in the following ways: [The people who espouse universal values] believe Western freedom, democracy, and human rights are universal and eternal. This is evident in their distortion of the Party’s own promotion of democracy, freedom, equality, justice, rule of law, and other such values; their claim that the CCP’s acceptance of universal values is a victory for universal values,” that “the West’s values are the prevailing norm for all human civilization,” that “only when China accepts Western values will it have a future,” and that “Reform and Opening is just a process of gradually accepting universal rights.”

Given Western nations’ long-term dominance in the realms of economics, military affairs, science, and technology, these arguments can be confusing and deceptive. The goal [of such slogans] is to obscure the essential differences between the West’s value system and the value system we advocate, ultimately using the West’s value systems to supplant the core values of Socialism.

3. Promoting civil society in an attempt to dismantle the ruling party’s social foundation.

Civil society is a socio-political theory that originated in the West. It holds that in the social sphere, individual rights are paramount and ought to be immune to obstruction by the state. For the past few years, the idea of civil society has been adopted by Western anti-China forces and used as a political tool. Additionally, some people with ulterior motives within China have begun to promote these ideas.

This is mainly expressed in the following ways:

Promoting civil society and Western-style theories of governance, they claim that building a civil society in China is a precondition for the protection of individual rights and forms the basis for the realization of constitutional democracy. Viewing civil society as a magic bullet for advancing social management at the local level, they have launched all kinds of so-called citizen’s movements.

Advocates of civil society want to squeeze the Party out of leadership of the masses at the local level, even setting the Party against the masses, to the point that their advocacy is becoming a serious form of political opposition.

4. Promoting Neoliberalism, attempting to change China’s Basic Economic System.

Neoliberalism advocates unrestrained economic liberalization, complete privatization, and total marketization and it opposes any kind of interference or regulation by the state. Western countries, led by the United States, carry out their Neoliberal agendas under the guise of “globalization,” visiting catastrophic consequences upon Latin America, the Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe, and have also dragged themselves into the international financial crisis from they have yet to recover.

This is mainly expressed in the following ways:

[Neoliberalism’s advocates] actively promote the “market omnipotence theory.” They claim our country’s macroeconomic control is strangling the market’s efficiency and vitality and they oppose public ownership, arguing that China’s state-owned enterprises are “national monopolies,” inefficient, and disruptive of the market economy, and should undergo “comprehensive privatization.” These arguments aim to change our country’s basic economic infrastructure and weaken the government’s control of the national economy.

5. Promoting the West’s idea of journalism, challenging China’s principle that the media and publishing system should be subject to Party discipline.

Some people, under the pretext of espousing “freedom of the press,” promote the West’s idea of journalism and undermine our country’s principle that the media should be infused with the spirit of the Party.

This is mainly expressed in the following ways:

Defining the media as “society’s public instrument” and as the “Fourth Estate;” attacking the Marxist view of news and promote the “free flow of information on the Internet;” slandering our country’s efforts to improve Internet management by calling them a crackdown on the Internet; claiming that the media is not governed by the rule of law but by the arbitrary will of the leadership; and calling for China to promulgate a Media Law based on Western principles. [Some people] also claim that China restricts freedom of the press and bang on about abolishing propaganda departments. The ultimate goal of advocating the West’s view of the media is to hawk the principle of abstract and absolute freedom of press, oppose the Party’s leadership in the media, and gouge an opening through which to infiltrate our ideology.

6. Promoting historical nihilism, trying to undermine the history of the CCP and of New China.

The goal of historical nihilism, in the guise of “reassessing history,” is to distort Party history and the history of New China.

This is mainly expressed in the following ways:

Rejecting the revolution; claiming that the revolution led by the Chinese Communist Party resulted only in destruction; denying the historical inevitability in China’s choice of the Socialist road, calling it the wrong path, and the Party’s and new China’s history a “continuous series of mistakes”; rejecting the accepted conclusions on historical events and figures, disparaging our Revolutionary precursors, and vilifying the Party’s leaders. Recently, some people took advantage of Comrade Mao Zedong’s 120th birthday in order to deny the scientific and guiding value of Mao Zedong thought. Some people try to cleave apart the period that preceded Reform and Opening from the period that followed, or even to set these two periods in opposition to one another. By rejecting CCP history and the history of New China, historical nihilism seeks to fundamentally undermine the CCP’s historical purpose, which is tantamount to denying the legitimacy of the CCP’s long-term political dominance.

7. Questioning Reform and Opening and the socialist nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

For the past several years, the discussion of reform has been unceasing, with all kinds of voices joining one after another. Some views clearly deviate from socialism with Chinese characteristics.

This is mainly expressed in the following ways:

Some blame the contradictions and problems of development on Reform and Opening. They say “Reform and opening up has gone too far” and that “we have deviated from our Socialist orientation.” They question whether or not what China is doing now still truly is Socialism, or they just call it “Capitalist Socialism,” “State Capitalism,” or “New Bureaucratic Capitalism.” Others say “reform is still distant and hasn’t be realized” or that “reform of the political system lags behind and obstructs reform of the economy.” They bang on about how we should use Western standards to achieve so-called “thorough reform.” Essentially, they oppose the general and specific policies emanating from the road taken at the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Party Congress and they oppose socialism with Chinese characteristics.

These mistaken views and ideas exist in great numbers in overseas media and reactionary publications. They penetrate China through the Internet and underground channels and they are disseminated on domestic Internet forums, blogs, and microblogs, They also appear in public lectures, seminars, university classrooms, class discussion forums, civilian study groups, and individual publications. If we allow any of these ideas to spread, they will disturb people’s existing consensus on important issues like which flag to raise, which road to take, which goals to pursue, etc., and this will disrupt our nation’s stable progress on reform and development.

Western anti-China forces and internal “dissidents” are still actively trying to infiltrate China’s ideological sphere and challenge our mainstream ideology. Some of their latest major efforts include: Some people have disseminated open letters and declarations and have organized petition-signings to vocalize requests for political reforms, improvement of human rights, release of “political prisoners,” “reversing the verdict on ‘6/4’[the Tiananmen Massacre],” and other such political demands; they have made a fuss over asset disclosure by officials, fighting corruption with the Internet, media supervision of government, and other sensitive hot-button issues, all of which stoke dissatisfaction with the Party and government. Western embassies, consulates, media operations, and NGOs operating inside China under various covers are spreading Western ideas and values and are cultivating so-called “anti-government forces.” Cooking up anti-government publications overseas. Within China’s borders, some private organizations are creating reactionary underground publications, and still others are filming documentaries on sensitive subject matter, disseminating political rumors, and defaming the party and the national leadership. Those manipulating and hyping the Tibetan self-immolations, manufacturing the violent terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, and using the ethnic and religious issues to divide and break up [the nation]. Accelerating infiltration of the Internet and illegal gatherings within our borders. “Dissidents” and people identified with “rights protection” are active. Some of them are working together with Western anti-China forces, echoing each other and relying on each other’s support. This clearly indicates that the contest between infiltration and anti-infiltration efforts in the ideological sphere is as severe as ever, and so long as we persist in CCP leadership and socialism with Chinese characteristics, the position of Western anti-China forces to pressure for urgent reform won’t change, and they’ll continue to point the spearhead of Westernizing, splitting, and “Color Revolutions” at China. In the face of these threats, we must not let down our guard or decrease our vigilance.

Pay Close Attention to Work in the Ideological Sphere.

Historical experience has proven that failures in the economic sphere can result in major disorder, and failure in the ideological sphere can result in major disorders as well. Confronting the very real threat of Western anti-China forces and their attempt at carrying out Westernization, splitting, and “Color Revolutions,” and facing the severe challenge of today’s ideological sphere, all levels of Party and Government, especially key leaders, must pay close attention to their work in the ideological sphere and firmly seize their leadership authority and dominance.

1. Strengthen leadership in the ideological sphere.

Party members and governments of all levels must become fully aware that struggles in the ideological sphere are perpetual, complex, and excruciating; you must strengthen awareness of the current political situation, big picture, responsibility, and risks. Leaders at all levels of government, you must strengthen your sense of responsibility—make work in the ideological sphere a high priority in your daily agenda, routinely analyze and study new developments in the ideological sphere, react swiftly and effectively, and preemptively resolve all problems in the ideological sphere.

2. Guide our party member and leaders to distinguish between true and false theories.

Forcefully resist influential and harmful false tides of thoughts, help people distinguish between truth and falsehood, and solidify their understanding. Party members, especially high-level leaders, must become adept at tackling problems from political, big-picture, strategic, and theoretical perspective. They must clearly recognize the essence of false ideas and viewpoints, both their theoretical falsehood and the practical political harm they can cause. We must have a firm approach and clear-cut stance toward major political principles, issues of right and wrong, what to support and what to oppose. We must uphold strict and clear discipline, maintaining a high-level unity with the Party Central Committee under the leadership of General Secretary Xi Jinping in thought, political stance, and action. We must not permit the dissemination of opinions that oppose the Party’s theory or political line, the publication of views contrary to decisions that represent the central leadership’s views, or the spread of political rumors that defame the image of the Party or the nation.

3. Unwavering adherence to the principle of the Party’s control of media.

The [principle of the Party’s control of media] stems from our political system and the nature of our media. We must maintain the correct political direction. We must firmly hold fast to the principle of the media’s Party spirit and social responsibility, and that in political matters it must be of one heart and mind with the Party. We must persist in correct guidance of public opinion, insisting that the correct political orientation suffuse every domain and process in political engagement, form, substance, and technology. We must give high priority to building both the leadership and rank and file in the sphere of media work. We need to strengthen education on the Marxist perspective of media to ensure that the media leadership is always firmly controlled by someone who maintains an identical ideology with the Party’s Central Committee, under General Secretary Xi Jinping’s leadership.

4. Conscientiously strengthen management of the ideological battlefield.

When facing sensitive events and complex puzzles in the ideological sphere, we should implement the principle that the people in charge assume responsibility and use territorial management.

We must reinforce our management of all types and levels of propaganda on the cultural front, perfect and carry out related administrative systems, and allow absolutely no opportunity or outlets for incorrect thinking or viewpoints to spread. Conscientiously implement the “Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Strengthening Information Protection on Networks,” strengthen guidance of public opinion on the Internet, purify the environment of public opinion on the Internet. Improve and innovate our management strategies and methods to achieve our goals in a legal, scientific, and effective way.

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The Case Against Modi Is A Case Against Mother India

Addendum: A fair criticism of the column below might be that I cut Sikhs For Justice far too much slack.

Today, at a rally at the Kanishka- Air India Flight 182 Memorial site Toronto, SFJ’s Jatinder Singh Grewal fingered Indian intelligence agencies for the 1985 atrocity and further accused the Indian government of conjuring an “imaginary ghost of ‘Sikh terrorism'” as the culprit. One placard  read: “India planned and executed Kanishka bombing.” 

This is a fabulist conspiracy-theory concoction of the most sinister kind. I happen to know this because I happen to know who planned and executed the plot that succeeded in blowing the Kanishka out of the sky off the coast of Ireland that day. I was covering this stuff while Jatinder Singh Grewal was still in diapers. I first interviewed Babbar Khalsa’s Talwinder Singh Parmar when I was a kid reporter on Canada’s west coast, years before he came to prominence as a terrorist fugitive using Canada as a safe haven owing to Canada’s lack of an extradition treaty with India.

In a series for the Globe and Mail, I spent time inside the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar before the Khalistani fanatics were bombed out of there in Operation Bluestar. I interviewed the Khalistanis’ Osama bin Laden figure, Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale, at length. I covered a speech he delivered to his generals, urging them to “fly through the air with their swords” in the slaughter of Hindus. I interrogated all the rest of those Taliban-like reprobates as well.

In his four-story fortress with sandbagged gun batteries on the roof and at each corner balcony on every floor, Parmar’s senior Babbar Khalsa general, Commander Sukhdev Singh, boasted about Babbar Khalsa’s atrocities and assassinations. “When we go to kill, we leave our pamphlets,” he said, bragging that he’d overseen at least 40 assassinations on Parmar’s orders, but that strictly speaking, he wasn’t certain, because he’d lost count. 

Commander Sukhdev Singh was no “imaginary ghost of Sikh terrorism.” Neither was Bhinderanwale or Parmar. The Sikh people, in Punjab and abroad, in their overwhelming majority, passionately devout and casually observant, have been made to carry the burden of this toxic Khalistani propaganda for far too long. It should stop.


Terry Glavin, National PostOttawa Citizen, April 15, 2015.

Stephen Harper was an ardent admirer of India's prime minister long before most Canadians had even heard of him.

By the time the extravaganza touched down in Canada on Tuesday, the advance publicity for the whirlwind tour of India’s dazzling “rock star” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already worked its crowd-wowing magic. After only small-venue gigs in France and Germany last week, Modi would be playing Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. Now he’s here. It’s all so very exciting.

Modi’s breakout show at New York’s Madison Square Garden last September drew about 18,000 fans. Even his performance at the Allphones Arena in Sydney last November pulled in about 15,000 Australians, while another 4,000 people watched his act on big screens outside the stadium. Now that he’s arrived in Canada, it’s like Bollywood. It’s Modimania, and we are all expected to make nice.

This makes the task of raining on Modi’s Canadian parade particularly thankless, but the job has been taken up without complaint by Toronto’s 36-year-old Jatinder Singh Grewal, international policy director for an outfit called Sikhs For Justice. “Regardless of what happens, you just do your best,” Grewal told me. “I just need to work hard to educate Canadians about who this person really is.”

It hasn’t made things any easier for Grewal that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was an ardent admirer of Modi’s long before most Canadians had even heard of him. Back in 2009, when Modi was just the chief minister of the state of Gujarat on India’s Arabian Sea coast, Harper cut the ribbon on a trade office in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s thriving commercial hub. By then Gujarat’s ports were already moving most of India’s incoming cargo. Modi had been chief minister since 2001, and Gujarat had come to account for nearly seven per cent of the Indian economy. The guy was a firecracker.

Trade competition for Indian affections is a cutthroat business, and opening a Canadian trade office in Gujarat was a sharp move. At the time, Modi couldn’t even get a tourist visa to enter the United States. This is where the Sikhs For Justice case against Modi comes into it. Last Wednesday, SFJ filed an extensive legal brief with Justice Minister Peter MacKay in a formal request that Modi be charged upon his arrival in Canada with the crimes of torture and genocide. The case against Modi alleges that while he was Gujarat’s chief minister in 2002 he had not only failed to prevent but aided, abetted and counselled the massacre of thousands of Muslims.

That went nowhere fast, so a week later constitutional lawyer and Canadian Civil Liberties Association vice-president Marlys Edwardh was in a Toronto courtroom with a Sikhs For Justice petition to have Modi ordered to appear in court to face a private torture charge. I caught up with Grewal by telephone during a break in the closed proceedings. “Whatever happens, Canadians need to know the extent of Modi’s crimes,” he said. Fair enough.

There is a small problem: blame for the 2002 Gujarat atrocities can be apportioned quite fairly without being especially parsimonious. Muslims were massacred. Hindus were massacred. Eruptions of heartbreaking communalist mayhem break out in India with almost clockwork regularity.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s cunning “rock star” re-branding exertions on Modi’s behalf have failed to completely expunge his unseemly record of shady Hindutva sectarianism, but by December, 2013, an extensive investigation ordered by India’s Supreme Court had wrapped up without nailing him, and hey presto, on May 26, 2014, the BJP swept the polls in elections to the Lok Sabha, and Modi was sworn in as India’s 15th prime minister.

There is another slight problem. The Sikhs For Justice agenda involves not so much a case against Modi as a case against Mother India herself. . .

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The Komagata Maru Story: More Awkward Than We’d Like.

Terry Glavin, National Post, April 8, 2015

History doesn’t lend itself to being abused and apologized for at the same time.

Leonard Frank/Handout/Vancouver Public Library Special Collections

Leonard Frank/Handout/Vancouver Public Library Special CollectionsArchival photo of some of the 376 Punjabis, mostly Sikhs, aboard the Komagata Maru in Vancouver Harbor in 1914.

In the way Canadians like to tell it, the story of the Komagata Maru begins on April 4, 1914, when Sikh emigrants from India, hoping only for a better life in Canada, board a ship in Hong Kong; after a series of disgraceful naval ambuscades in Vancouver Harbour the ship is forced to weigh anchor on July 23 of that year. The Komagata Maru steams all the way back to Calcutta, 20 of its passengers are killed in some kind of dockside melee, and the rest of the voyagers are imprisoned.

In the story’s denouement, Canada has constructed a kind of morality play, an allegorical drama of our national salvation from the shame and squalor of Canada’s racist past that places our redemption in Canada’s eventual law reform and repeal, repentance and contrition. There are apologies, plaque-unveilings and seminars, a federally-funded museum, booklets, exhibitions, and a commemorative stamp. That sort of thing.

But Canadians may soon be revisiting their revision of the Komagata Maru story. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Canada next week. Only two weeks ago the legislative assembly in the Sikh homeland of India’s Punjab State called on him to demand that the Canadian Parliament apologize specifically to India for the “atrocities committed on the Indian people” during the Komagata Maru affair. . .

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