Trudeau, Telford and Han Dong
Audio Podcast Version
If we are to have the freedom to live, one of the things we must have is the freedom to examine the government and its activities. Increasingly, around the globe democratic governments are resisting transparency and accountability, none more so than in Canada. The way the Trudeau government has handled the issue of Chinese interference in Canadian elections is a clear example of the government using every tool that it has to avoid accountability. All these attempts to deny, to obfuscate and to mislead tear apart the fabric of freedom that is so important to the health of our country.
When this first arose, the Prime Minister denied that there was an issue at all. Then as the evidence mounted, he denied that he had had any briefings on the issue at all. As the pressure built they tried a different tactic, one that has worked for them on other issues. Our Global Affairs Minister has proven herself to be particularly irrelevant on this file and when Minister Joly was at committee, she was challenged by MP Cooper about her inability to hold the Chinese government to account. Using her own words against her, he pointed out how inept she has been. That led to a desperate attempt by the Prime Minister's office to change the channel - gathering less than neutral Liberal voices such as former MP Sheila Copps and others to claim this was an issue of sexism rather than incompetence. Sympathetic (or pathetic) media tried to help Trudeau but even with their help this was a lost cause. It seems that failure to do your job is failure to do your job, irregardless of whether you're male or female. Then Mark Holland, this illustrious government's House Leader, was caught lying in Parliament, trying to make the issue about Pierre Poilievre and security briefings. Holland's fumbling apology only highlighted the Trudeau government's lack of credibility on the China file.
However, the most interesting aspect of this whole charade has been the games played by this government in order to prevent Trudeau's Chief of Staff from testifying what she knows about the whole fiasco. The refusal of the Prime Minister to allow his Chief of Staff Katie Telford to appear before a Committee of the House of Commons creates a very real threat to the survival of this government.
I was Parliamentary Secretary to the Global Affairs Minister approximately 10 years ago. Every Minster or PS or MP involved in Global Affairs, Justice or Security issues and the SubCommittee on Human Rights knew full well the threat the Chinese government represented, both to its own people and to governments around the globe. Canada needed to be especially vigilant, because of our close connections and participation throughout the Pacific. Kevin and Julia Garratt's isolation and unjust imprisonment in 2014 (take a look at this article and realize this was all known to Justin Trudeau and Crew, including his Chief of Staff - https://www.wired.com/story/us-china-cybertheft-su-bin/ ) shone a larger light on the Chinese government's willingness to use innocent civilians to force their own agenda. Later moves., such as the saga of the two Michaels, the ongoing genocidal actions against the Uighurs, the vicious crackdowns on the Chinese Christian church and the repression of freedom in Hong Kong highlighted, again and again, the willingness of the Chinese Communist Party to limit freedoms wherever they could.
The PM, every Minister and the top levels of both the Government and the Prime Minister's office, would have known all of this and also knew that the Chinese had a great interest in Canadian elections, especially after Stephen Harper's strong stand against the Chinese government's violations of human rights. Those aware of the Chinese government's insatiable desire to create and maintain power would certainly have included both the Prime Minister and his Chief of Staff. There is no possibility that they would not have been briefed of the Chinese government's activities… UNLESS they deliberately did not want to know. When Justin Trudeau claimed he never had any briefings on these issues I knew he was lying - although it may be true that he doesn't remember any briefings. I spent some time with him when I was in the House of Commons and it may be entirely possible that he's completely forgotten the briefing, given his limited interest and capacity to receive and maintain information. I would suggest it is extremely unlikely that the same can be said for his Chief of Staff, Katie Telford. She has overseen everything since being appointed - oversees the entire operations of the prime minister's office, oversees the operation of the cabinet, oversees the operation of the government. There is absolutely no possibility that she has not been thoroughly briefed on this file. She would have been briefed very early on, just as CSIS and other security organs have stated. It's clear that the government, CSIS and security agencies have known about this issue of undue influence for years, especially given the work over the last 10 years that authors such as Sam Cooper have written (https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/douglas-todd-sam-coopers-expose-of-corruption-in-canada-tops-bestseller-list).
Obviously, Trudeau's earlier statements have put Ms. Telford in a tough spot. Does she come clean and jeopardize her longtime friend Justin Trudeau or will she testify to what she knows? To come clean will be difficult - the whole narrative of the last months indicates that this is a government desperate to keep the public from getting the whole story. And we still have a mainstream media that refuses to ever impute any negative motives to the Trudeau government in spite of its corruption and numerous scandals.
The challenge for the House of Commons Committee is huge. In the few short minutes that members of the opposition have to question Ms. Telford they will need to pry out of her what she knew, and when. She is no Committee rookie, having appeared at least twice before - in 2020 to address issues of scandal around Justin Trudeau's personal and family ties to the WE Charity, and in 2021 where she repeatedly avoided answering questions about what Trudeau knew about allegations against General Jonathan Vance.
Those on the government side who manage the Committee will try to ensure that the time is used up quickly, without any real content coming out, as we saw on Wednesday March 22 at the Immigration Committee when Michael Chong tried to question Melanie Joly about Han Dong. Immediately a Liberal MP interrupted to make a point of order and then the Chair declared Chong's time for questions had run out. Compliant Committee Chairs and aggressive government MPs can disrupt the hearing enough to limit any negative consequences from a witness’s testimony. The challenge for opposition MP's will be to insist that all relevant information be brought out into the open.
It is interesting that the next day after Trudeau gave in and said that Telford would testify, there was a media expose. The new news was that MP Han Dong had supposedly told Chinese representatives that the Chinese government should hold on to the two Michaels. I have no idea if this it true, but whether it is or not, it set the scenario for Trudeau to kick Dong out ….. although he has been defending him for months.
It would be really interesting to know who made the story available to the media - it sets things up so it looks like Trudeau is addressing the issues, when the reality is that all this government has done is, once again, cover its own assets. The only things this government has done well is to wriggle its way out of scandal after scandal. This issue is too important for Trudeau and crew to be allowed to lie and to deflect. The threat posed to our freedom by outside interference in our electoral system has created the greatest threat to our freedom that we have seen in decades.
This time we do have an actual emergency and this government needs to act in a way that allows Canadians to hold it accountable for creating and allowing it.