Pandemic restrictions? Don’t miss the forest for the trees. The real threat to Canadian freedom is foreign interference
By Tasha Kheiriddin
November 15, 2022
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the G20 leaders summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Dita Alangkara/Pool via REUTERS
“Anything you want. You decide to run, you call. Anything you want.”
I smiled at the man and tucked his business card in my purse. A tempting offer to some, perhaps. The Rosedale fundraiser swirled with political operatives, including a provincial cabinet minister, a local candidate, and wealthy donors to the Ontario PC Party. The man and his group were busy posing with all of them. And then they turned their attention to me.
But I knew I wouldn’t be calling. Because I suspected that this individual, whose associate had so eagerly grabbed my arm and steered me to a table of people “she wanted me to meet” — despite the fact that I had never met her before — was not interested in my political well-being, but in something else.
I left the fundraiser that night and did a little digging. The card identified my new friend as John Wei-Bang Zhu, the head of the Chinese Canadian Conservative Association (CCCA), a group that is not formally associated with the Conservative party. It is a private corporation, established in 2013, with a listed address on Midland Avenue in Toronto. Over the years, CCCA directors have been active as conservative volunteers and supporters. Two of its board members, Frank Fang and Eric Wen, describe themselves as president of Mississauga riding associations of the PC Party of Ontario. The CCCA has endorsed many candidates, including Fang who ran in the 2019 federal election. Most recently, it endorsed Patrick Brown during 2022 the Conservative leadership race.
The CCCA is also the group that called for former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole to resign over his criticism of Chinese human rights abuses. In October 2021, CCCA spokesman Joe Li, a regional councillor north of Toronto and three-time former Tory candidate, held a press conference and said that Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig had been detained after “Canada started the war,” that China had a right to fly its planes into Taiwan’s air-defence zone and that Canada should not publicly criticize Beijing’s human-rights abuses.
“When you keep on attacking China, it sometimes translates as attacking the Chinese community,” Li said. “Why don’t we leave the destiny of China to the Chinese people who live inside?”
This has been the dilemma for all political parties, not just the Conservatives. Call out abuses by the Chinese Communist Party, and you risk being labeled anti-Chinese. In Brown’s words, “The impression in the community was that the Conservative party was against the Chinese Canadian community. So I think there needs to be a clear distinction.”
Brown is right. And there is a clear distinction — one that democracies have drawn before. For decades the West drew a clear distinction between criticism of the Soviet Union’s murderous leadership, and support for the Russian, Polish, East German, and other peoples controlled by the communist regime. That distinction needs to be drawn again, this time between China’s government and the people it oppresses.
And those people aren’t just living in China. In the past month, we learned that Canadians of Chinese descent are being harassed and forcibly “repatriated” by CCP police precincts operating on Canadian soil. We learned that eleven candidates of both the Canadian Liberal and Conservative Parties were funded by the CCP — and that Prime Minister Trudeau knew this in January 2022. And in the last days we were treated to the pathetic spectacle of Trudeau, stuttering through a non-answer when asked whether the CCP’s horrendous persecution of the Uyghur people — including concentration camps, forced organ harvesting, torture and murder — amounts to a genocide.
This state of affairs cannot continue. If our Prime Minister won’t stand up against tyranny, someone else must. Canadians of Chinese descent need protection from abuse by the CCP. And the Chinese people — Uyghurs and others — need Canadians to stand in solidarity with them against the genocide that is taking place.
Pandemic restrictions? Don’t miss the forest for the trees. The real threat to Canadian freedom is foreign interference. If politicians want an issue to rally the troops (looking at you, Conservatives), this one is a winner — for party, citizens, and country.