Questions Canadians should be asking about China

By Terry Glavin

On the face of it, it is a neatly packaged controversy.

You could say it’s about the government’s weirdly over-the-top enthusiasm for the $6-billion Enbridge Inc. proposal to push a pipeline from Alberta’s oilsands through northern British Columbia to saltwater at Kitimat. Or you could say it’s about an environmentalist plot to keep Alberta’s oilsands landlocked, although even the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is laughing out loud at that one.

In any case, we all agree that it’s about satiating China’s growing demand for energy and getting out from under Canada’s reliance on the limited American market for Albertan oil. But something else has been going on, and it’s not funny anymore.

Nearly half of the $100-million upfront cash for the Enbridge project is coming either directly or indirectly from the seventh-largest corporation on Earth, the absurdly corrupt Sinopec, a ravenous behemoth run directly by the regime in Beijing. Oilpatch rumours have it that Beijing’s own Sinochem and the China National Petroleum Corp. came up with at least some of the other half. In any case, you aren’t allowed to know. Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn’t saying, and neither is Enbridge.

Under its aggressive and ambitious president, Wang Tianpu, Sinopec has been in hyperdrive acquiring direct stakes in foreign energy properties. It was Sinopec that spent $2 billion on an outright purchase of the Alberta oil and gas firm Daylight Energy late last year. A direct Beijing foothold — this was a first for Canada’s oilfields.

But it was an earlier $2-billion Sinopec takeover of Vancouver’s Tanganyika Oil that won Beijing its first big piece of Syria’s Oudeh oilfields, and that’s how Sinopec provides the sanctions-busting revenues that allow the delusional mass murderer Bashar al-Assad to hang on in Damascus. It’s the same game Sinopec has been playing in Sudan, keeping the genocidaire Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum instead of in the prisoner’s dock at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Here’s where it gets really ugly.

China is now Iran’s number one trading partner. Sinopec is now Iran’s main buyer of crude oil. Tehran has managed to avoid the bite of Euro-American sanctions aimed at curbing the ayatollahs’ nuclear ambitions. Sinopec is the reason why the sanctions are failing. If sanctions fail, it will almost certainly mean war.

Just how Sinopec became co-author of Stephen Harper’s new foreign policy and energy strategy isn’t a question we’re supposed to be asking. And it’s not impudent Kitsilano hippies with American funding and precious feelings about oil spills and sea otters who have been asking questions like that one, or wondering out loud about what sort of role Vancouver’s powerful enclave of Chinese business tycoons has been playing in it all.

Here are just a few people who have told me in recent days that whatever is going on here, there is something very strange and wrong about the whole thing.

Martin Collacott is a senior fellow with the arch-conservative Fraser Institute. He was a career public servant with Foreign Affairs, and the department’s former director-general for security. Stephen Kaufmann is a former Canadian trade commissioner in Hong Kong, the president of his own forest-products company. Scott Newark, former executive director of the Canadian Police Association, was senior policy adviser to Stockwell Day, the former minister responsible for the Asia Pacific Gateway (Day is now a “distinguished fellow” with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada). The list goes on and on.

So do the questions. There’s another one coming up.

In the summer of 2010, Richard Fadden, the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, let it be known that politicians in at least two provinces were under “foreign influence” and China was funding political activism in Canada. For his trouble, Fadden was thrown under the bus by the Commons Public Safety Committee. New Democrat Don Davies likened Fadden to the infamous, communist-obsessed American senator Joseph McCarthy, and claimed that Fadden had “tarred” the entire Chinese-Canadian community.

Fadden followed up with a detailed memorandum to his boss, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. A heavily redacted version came to light a few months later. Among other things, Fadden told Toews: “Canada is a target for foreign interference due to our natural resources, scientific and technological sectors, our role and influence in the international community, and our close relations with powerful allies.”

Fadden wasn’t talking about the influence of American eco-millionaires. He was talking about China. Fadden named names. Vic Toews knows the names of the politicians Fadden was talking about. Here’s the question: Who are they, exactly?

I’ll leave the last word to David Kilgour, a former MP with both the Conservatives and Liberals, a former deputy speaker of the House, and an unflinching friend of the Chinese people: “We have to start asking these questions. What’s happening here is madness. It’s madness.”

Terry Glavin is a columnist with the Ottawa Citizen. His most recent book is Come From the Shadows: The Long and Lonely Struggle For Peace in Afghanistan.

Article reproduced with permission.