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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Calling China's bluff

I'm glad that Stephen Harper looked Beijing's bullies in the eye and refused to blink. Here's my Sun column on the subject from yesterday. I had an error in it -- Harper calls his policy "principled engagement", not "constructive engagement", as I had written.

An excerpt:

"There are a few lessons here.

First: China, like any bully, respects strength more than weakness.

Second, China has more to lose than we do from a deterioration in relations -- we'll never run out of people who want to buy our oil.

Third, Harper is making Canada relevant again in foreign affairs. Not only are we no longer apologists for dictators, but we are actually moral leaders.

Finally, Harper is putting into action the empty Liberal slogans about human rights and Canadian values."

What do you think?

Posted by Ezra Levant on November 21, 2006 | Permalink


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Well said! Harper's got big brass ones, at least compared to the Libs. On the other hand, Harper lied like a two-bit whore about taxing income trusts, so I don't really care how big or how brass they are. Tough on human rights, soft on truth; why should I care?

Posted by: Tozetre | 2006-11-21 11:26:35 AM

Well Toz if the difference is not obvious to you there's no sense in trying to enligten you. Who is Graham the fiberal leader to dictate Canadian moral values? If his are the standard to go by then we're so deep in the mire we'll never see daylight again!

Posted by: Frico | 2006-11-21 11:43:42 AM


Get over it. What was done on the income trust issue is best for the middle-class taxpayer. If you can't understand that ...

Posted by: Set you free | 2006-11-21 11:52:00 AM

I would be enlighted if he refuses to meet.....but not a tossed 15min something

Posted by: yachi | 2006-11-21 12:33:32 PM

Frico: I never said there wasn't a difference between Harper and, say, Graham. I said Harper lied. He got elected on a platform of honesty and integrity. What am I supposed to do, say "well, it's okay because it's my favoured political party?" How would I be different from a Liberal then? I'm disgusted with Harper because he lied, just like the Liberals we finally voted out. Harper's not Mr Happy Perfect, he's just "better than the Liberals." There's a whole lot of room in that category.

SYF: Can't tell if that's sarcasm or not. If not, which part of "lying and raising taxes" is better for anyone? If Harper wanted to even taxes out, he could have lowered taxes in other areas- but I guess that wouldn't have been Canadian of him, he being so concerned with doing the right thing. Like lying to voters.

Posted by: Tozetre | 2006-11-21 12:36:55 PM


Did you lose any money as a result of the decision?

Posted by: Set you free | 2006-11-21 12:40:52 PM


Why should that have an impact on my complaint? "He lied and increased taxes" is true whether or not I tack "and I lost money on it" at the end.

Jeez, am I on a Liberal blog all of a sudden? I object to the Party Leader's actions, and the reaction is "how dare you attack our saint" and "if you can't understand that we're right you're not worth talking to."

Look, I think Harper was the ideal guy, of the options, to lead the country. He still is- but that doesn't mean he should be immune to complaint, or not called up for doing things he said he was never going to do, no matter how "right for the people" it may be.

Posted by: Tozetre | 2006-11-21 12:49:21 PM


I assume then, once you have made a decision, you never change your mind?

Posted by: Set you free | 2006-11-21 12:56:43 PM


If the decision was "I think I'll have watermelon for dessert," I might switch to cake. If the decision was "And I publicly promise not to do X," I do believe I'd be disinclined to reverse that particular one.

What, it's not enough I prefer Harper to Liberals? It's not enough that I condemn Liberals for being scummy, lying bastards, but when one of my own turns out to be a lying bastard, I can't point out what he's done? I have to gloss it over with insipid phrases like "it was for the best" or "he had to do it?"

Why exactly are you defending one man's decision to break a promise when you (rightly) accuse other men of doing the same? Was not Martin a bastard for lying? Was not Chretien? Why then is not Harper? On the basis of his party, his politics? Or, perhaps, am I justified in being incensed that Harper should break his promise- especially since he campaigned on a platform of not breaking promises?

Posted by: Tozetre | 2006-11-21 1:09:05 PM


on this blog no "Conservative" can do wrong in the eyes of the "masses".

Get with the party line already.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2006-11-21 1:25:28 PM


Well said. It is like we do not want to be confused by the facts because we have our mind made up. Not a good way to hold our politicians accountable, regardless of which party they are from.

Posted by: TM | 2006-11-21 1:28:16 PM


If you publicly promised to never kill another human being, and then had your family attacked by a gunman, with you having a chance to either kill him or watch your family die, would you break the promise?

Of course you would, its the lesser of two evils.

Now, consider yourself leading a country in which you are about to see corporations massively change structure to pass off TENS OF BILLIONS in tax revenue, eventually leading to a government revenue collapse or total overhaul of taxation across the board. Would you move to protect those most hurt by your broken promise and break it anways, or let the entire country go down because of your pride.

Martin/Cretien never broke promises like that (except, arguably, about the GST).

Posted by: Anti-Communist | 2006-11-21 1:30:06 PM


That could not possibly be true. You, Toz, and myself are 3. Maybe your point was that it is frustrating how simple some of the conservative arguments are.

Posted by: TM | 2006-11-21 1:31:02 PM

TM- The only simple argument is this:

Lying is ALWAYS wrong and there is never a situation where it is acceptable, period.

Because, it's just not true, life is more COMPLEX than that.

Posted by: Anti-Communist | 2006-11-21 1:33:42 PM

In life, be careful what you wish for. In politics, be careful what you promise, especially after years of embedded Liberal rule.

The Conservatives inherited the surplus the Liberal$ mounted on the backs of the taxpayers to buy their way to power once again so their really pissed they can't get their grubby hands on it.
Remember Paul Martin in the final hours of his short reign after years of pining for the job?
Did Paul ever tell a lie?

The biggest lie came from Chretien when he promised to abolish the GST and got a majority on that lie.

Harper will have to go some to equal that one.
The Income Trust reversal was a good move,it had to be done, it's a lie that we can live with.

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-11-21 1:38:19 PM


Am I losing my mind? Did someone just defend Harper by asserting that if he hadn't raised taxes the government would NOT TAX billions of dollars and force an "overhaul of taxation across the board?" When did this become a defense Conservatives valued? When did "escaping taxation" become a VICE to Canadian Conservatives?

Posted by: Tozetre | 2006-11-21 1:43:46 PM

I'm in Bizarro World. It's the only explanation.

"it's a lie that we can live with."

Like, what?

Is this what's happened to Conservatives on gaining power? Am I surrounded by Liberals pretending to be Conservatives just to confuse me? Am I dreaming this? When did lies become something we can live with? What's next, "it's a tax raise I can live with?" Oh wait, we're already there.

Seriously, when did this turn into the Toronto Post blog?

Posted by: Tozetre | 2006-11-21 1:51:40 PM

Right. And the changing condition was what? Massive tax burden? No, that was there already. Corporations seeking to escape tax burden? No, that was there already. Hmm, what could the change in situation be?

Oh, I know! We got into power!

Say, isn't there a clever phrase about that? Something by a guy called Acton, as I recall. Oh yes, now I recall; "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." There's another one of his I like, too: "The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern."

Can we stop whipping clever phrases around now and address actual problems? Like liars in office, and the alarming disinclination of some members of the population to see error in the ways of said liars?

Posted by: Tozetre | 2006-11-21 2:11:28 PM


Methinks you might be going mad, if you cant understand the rationale here.

Perhaps you can enlighten us by listing the conditions under which YOU would be willing to break a public lie?

I listed one such example above, can you please expand upon your stated belief that "NO LIE IS EVER ACCEPTABLE" which is obviosly false.

When is it ok to break a promise? How many people must it benefit, and under what conditions?

Posted by: Anti-Communist | 2006-11-21 2:18:51 PM


Hope your not losing your mind over political maneuvering .One thing we can count on,in my humble opinion, is the Conservatives will handle our money for the common good as opposed to buying votes, they've already proven that. The Liberals knew they had to do something about Income Trusts but didn't have the guts to do it.
Have you checked how much was MADE on the big leak Ralphy Goodale took on the subject?

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-11-21 2:19:27 PM


This was discussed a few weeks ago. I do not know enough about the Trusts to comment but one poster (Brian Mallard) had some good thoughts on the issue. He feels no promise was broken. I do not know if his explanation is sufficient for you or not but it settled some of the others down as you can see. I offer his opinion on the matter.


Posted by: Brent Weston | 2006-11-21 2:24:12 PM

AC: I never once said no lie is acceptable. Hiding Jews from Einsatzgruppen is a fantastic use of a lie, for example. I said Harper lied, and maybe we ought to be a little more strong in our collective reaction than "well, that's all right," considering the Conservatives are supposed to be the honest party, in contrast to Liberals who break promises and lie. Harper could have done two or three other things to fix the problem and not broken his promise. He could have lowered or eliminated the double-tax on corporate income. He could have grandfathered the income trust taxation.

He could have kept his promise and retained international trust in Canadian financial markets. That would have been nice.

Fine and dandy, but I've got this really radical, mind-blowing opinion you may have heard about from before Harper was elected. Ready?
"I'd like to handle my own money myself, thanks."


For all:

If it was so evident that something needed to be done about income trusts, why did Harper make the promise?

Posted by: Tozetre | 2006-11-21 2:30:56 PM

Ah, I'm a liar and therefore wrong! An excellent argument if my character or propensity to lie or tell the truth was at stake- or if I was in fact a liar. Nope, I'm quite fully aware that Telus, for example, is/was converting to an income trust. In fact, since that particular issue hadn't been raised, except perhaps by my statement that I like corporations not paying double taxes, claiming I lied about it was disingenuous. Here's the thing; I live in Alberta, where provincial taxes were lowered, and as a result the provincial tax base increased- before the oil boom, even. So claims that not raising taxes will wipe out the tax base sound a little weak to me.

Brian's defense is well written, but engages in some gymnastic sophistry to be able to claim the Conservatives didn't lie. He offers a good explanation of the whys and wherefores of the Conservative decision- none of which changes in the slightest that they still lied. His claims that four years is a lifetime in tax policy years don't do much to salve the nasty drop in equity. Sure, lots of things affect investment markets- including and substantially government tax policies. See any Canadians investing in Chinese oil wells?

Posted by: Tozetre | 2006-11-21 2:50:08 PM

Well, enough hijacking this thread by accident; obviously I'm far our of my depth trying to argue such reasonable folks into condemning politicians for doing what all politicians do. Let's focus back on how great it is to have a government willing to stand up to China, and I can move to Texas where I won't get jumped on for not toeing the party line.

Posted by: Tozetre | 2006-11-21 2:54:20 PM

To Toz and the rest of his followers.
The Income trust issue had to be addressed after 2 giant telecommunications corporations decided to go that route. That was an unknown when the CPC made their promise. Time and situations change and they did their best to protect the integrity of the revenue policy.
The best is, I believe, to come on Thursday when
the Finance Minister addresses parliament and makes his economic statement.
Be careful of what your initial reactions are.
You may be eating your words on Friday.

Posted by: Ralph Rattfuc | 2006-11-21 3:31:18 PM

Ah, the Income Trust affair! this was real life calling on the Conservatives. Sooner or later, we all have to make a decision where we don't get to choose between good and bad.......where circumstances have only left us with bad and worse. So how do you call it? Do you make the decision that preserves your good reputation and say to hell with what's good for the country? You call it.

Is this decision a lie? it's only a lie, if they knew they would have to go back on their election promise at the time they made it. If I recall correctly, an American president campaigned on the notion of keeping the US out of WW II and then had to rethink this after Pearl Harbour..........stuff happens and, if you're an adult, you deal with it to get the best outcome for everyone. It's not perfect, but it's reality. Further, if anyone is suggesting that the Conservative have to be perfect to be credible.......get a grip, you're just not living in the real world.

Posted by: WildRose | 2006-11-21 3:50:11 PM

It is a back alley attempt by the left wingers to paint Harper as a liar. They will repeat it loudly and often, but it is simply untrue. As Wildrose and Ralph have just explained, the situation has changed
since the election campaign. Many multi B$ corporations were planning to convert, which would weaken their companies and avoid taxes. Harper made the tough but correct choice, he put his country above his party once again. Leadership ... Liberals and NDPers (and the MSM) don't recognize it because they have never seen it in their own ranks.

Posted by: Rick Gagne | 2006-11-21 5:39:09 PM

Well said Rick Gagné.

A politician says so many things during a campaign.

I think Harper was sincere. But politics being the art of the possible, sitations change. Maybe PM Harper should have been more careful with that situation. So He made a mistake. A sin?

Like Jesus said, he who never sins throws the first stone. And everybody left, one by one. And Jesus said to the woman: I do not condemn you either, go and sin no more.

Posted by: Rémi Houle | 2006-11-21 6:41:59 PM

IGNORE THE TROLLS. What does Ezra's column have to do with Income Trusts anyway?

Ezra is bang-on. Perhaps the old platitude "punching above our weight" may finally have meaning again.

China needs us far more than we need them. But the Power Corp. crew needs China more than anything, and would surely throw our national dignity under the bus to keep the cheap goods flowing!

Posted by: NCF TO | 2006-11-21 6:46:34 PM

What in the hell am I missing? A lie is when you say something that you know at the time is wrong. To do the opposite of what you once said months later is changing your mind. There IS a difference. The determining factor in any lie is did you know at the time that what you were saying was false or you if you had no intentions of following through on what you had just stated.

Posted by: Canadian plus | 2006-11-21 7:03:48 PM

I emigrated to this country thinking I would be a Liberal. It soon became apparent that the only principle the Liberal party had was that it had none.

Income Trusts - Tozetre:

Some numbers for you: On Oct04, 2006 the Cdn Income Trust Index (RTCM) closed at 153.52 after reaching a low of 149.73. Any technical analyst could see that a series of "falling tops" indictated that this market was going lower.

There was a rebound after Oct04 with the RTCM closing at 164.86 on Oct31 - 7.86% below the all time high of 178.93 on 21Apr2006.

After the announcment, the RTCM reached a low of 135.51 on Nov14. The 5 trading days after that it has rebounded strongly and closed today at 146.18. That is only 2.37% below the low of Oct04.

Meanwhile dividend payments continue unaffected and buyers were afforded buying opportunities that would raise their returns for the next four years.

For the long term, Canadian retirees can still own these dividend paying stocks but pay dividend tax at reduced rates. Foreign investors and RRSP (still working) investors will lose their loophole.

'taint so bad.

Posted by: greenmamba | 2006-11-21 7:17:14 PM

Reading the "defense" commentaries on here is funny.

I remember somehow the comments made by people on this blog (who seem to be missing this discussion for some strange reason) who were furious about Harpers flip-flopping.

And yet, now all off the sudden he was right.

Funny how it seems your ideology can't even be nuanced in that regard.

But then, what's to be expected by people who paint the world in black and white and would love to see every place burn that has not sworn allegiance to the Red, White & Blue and maybe on occasion even the Mapleleaf.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2006-11-21 9:35:33 PM

Lesson for All.
A wise man changes his mind many times,
But a fool never does.

Posted by: Frico | 2006-11-21 10:29:56 PM

Nobody expects you to understand concepts such as economics or contingency, Snowrunner. Don't sweat it. We have low expectations of you.

China hates dissent. The PRC jails and eviscerates dissidents. Standing up to China is a good thing.

Now if Prime Minister Harper would only arrest and try in televised hearings all those Chinese spies that CSIS and the RCMP identified during Chretiens regime we would have something concrete to celebrate.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-11-21 10:32:10 PM

karol karolak,

I don't believe it has been missed.

And, Bill has tried very hard to attack PMSH with ad hominum, with great failure.


I will never forget the real attrocity committed by Bill Graham, and Jean Creten, when they sat, listend, applauded, and then shook hands with a man who spouted some of the most digusting racism I have ever heard. On that day, I was truly ashamed of Canada's representation at the International level.

You recall the event?


And what did Bill Graham and Jean Cretin do?

They actually shook hands with the racist hatred inspired venomist!

They said they would deal with the issue behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, President Bush went up to the Malaysian PM and said the honourable words, that the racism and hatred he had utterred, went against everything he believed.

Posted by: Lady | 2006-11-22 10:50:30 AM

What was the original post about? Oh, yes, China. I like how Prime Minister Harper stood up and got China's attention, and he was able to get a promise that the death penalty would be off the table for Huseyin Celil. This is a good first step, but Canada having China's attention will be short lived unless there are follow up discussions.

John M Reynolds

Posted by: jmrSudbury | 2006-11-22 11:53:20 AM

Ezra, It seems even the odd Liberal with a clue agrees with you.

On the CBC’s ‘Politics’ show yesterday former Liberal party president, Stephen LeDrew, said he thought Harper was taking a principled approach in criticizing China on human rights and that he should be congratulated for it. [reminiscent of La Francophonie meeting in Romania]. He noted also that China badly needs trade with Canada, therefore Harper is acting from a position of strength not weakness. It’s putting Canada back on the map - a welcome departure from business as usual in foreign relations.

See the whole video at http://www.cbc.ca/politics (the LeDrew piece is near the 48 min. mark)

Posted by: JR | 2006-11-22 2:02:27 PM

Just to be clear, when I wrote "'Politics' show yesterday" that would be Tuesday.

Posted by: JR | 2006-11-22 2:11:19 PM

"But then, what's to be expected by people who paint the world in black and white and would love to see every place burn that has not sworn allegiance to the Red, White & Blue and maybe on occasion even the Mapleleaf."

Yeah, we need more people like you who worship "Shades of Grey."

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2006-11-23 5:02:55 PM

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