Posts Tagged ‘human rights

What is the BC NDP stand on “hate speech”?

- February 7th, 2013


If you missed “The Battleground” on Sun News Network yesterday, you will have missed a budding controversy in the coming British Columbia election involving David Eby, former head of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.  He is now the NDP candidate trying to unseat Premier Christy Clark in the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey.  In a 2008 interview with the Western Standard magazine, Eby said he supported the repeal of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which deals with “hate speech”. Read more…

Talk tough or be nice: Canada’s China numbers grow no matter what

- July 18th, 2011

When the Conservatives formed a government under Stephen Harper early in 2006, the government’s stance towards China was cool, to say the least. Concerned about China’s poor record on human rights and democratic reform, the Harper government seemed to go out of its way to thumb its nose at China.  In October, 2007, for example, Harper posed in his office with the Dalai Lama (left, pic taken by PMO), which the government of China called “disgusting conduct.” Harper was one of the few world leaders who did not bother going to Beijing for the opening of the 2008 Olympic Winter Games, even though Canada would follow China as host of those games in Vancouver in 2010.

Then, in 2009, Harper went to China. He was dressed down publicly by China’s number two politician, Premier Wen Jiabiao (a rebuke I took offence to as a Canadian). The following year, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Ottawa ahead of the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto. Now, John Baird, in his first major trip as foreign affairs minister, is in China.

Some believed that the Conservatives shed their previously hawkish stance on China to better help Canadian firms win new business in China. Really? Let’s take a look at the trade data:

Canadian exports to China grew by 8.2%, 21.9% and 10.1% in the first three years of the Harper government, when it was “talking tough” to China. Canadian exports grew 6.5% and 18.7%  in 2009 and 2010 respectively, when the Harper government decided to take a different stance. (Data source: Industry Canada) Now: Could exports between 2005 and 2008 have grown faster if the Harper government had “talked nice” during that period? Maybe. But export growth of 21.9% in the same year that Harper was committing his “disgusting conduct” of meeting with the Dalai Lama seems pretty good to me.

Moreover, Canada’s exports to China grew relative to our overall exports. In 2005, our sales to China made up 1.65% of our overall exports. In 2006, 2007, and 2008 — the years when Harper “cooled” relations — Chinese exports accounted for 1.77%, 2.11%, and 2.17% of Canada’s overall exports. Decent growth in every year. In 2010, exports to China now account for 3.31 per cent of overall exports, up from just 1.06 per cent a decade ago in 2001.

If I had to take any lesson from these numbers it might be this: Our exports are growing because we have stuff the Chinese want to buy. It doesn’t much matter how our government behaves — they’re still buying. And if that’s the case, why not do more to stand up for human rights and democracy. We’ll still get rich selling to the Chinese!