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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mr. Dithers and the Dalai Lama

In the CP coverage of the Harper visit to Southeast Asia; Harper declares his government has a gutsier style on the world stage, the writer make a comparison between the Harper government's approach to relations with China and that of the previous Paul Martin Liberal government.

Still, it was the Liberal government under Prime Minister Jean Chretien in 1997 that created the Canada-China Joint Dialogue on Human Rights, which has met every year except this one.

Chretien successor, Paul Martin, was the first Canadian prime minister to meet with the Dalai Lama.

That line reminding us of the April 23, 2004 meeting with the Dalai Lama is instructive because reviewing that event helps to illustrate the differences between Martin and Harper.

The visit by the Dalai Lama to Ottawa was announced in Dec. 2003. At that time, 126 MPs were lobbying the PM to meet with him. Still, Martin refused to say whether he would, worried about relations with China. By the beginning of April 2004 the story had reached international proportions and many commentators had pointed out that other international leaders had met with the Dalai Lama and suffered no penalty of trade with China. Finally, on April 13, ten days before the Dalai Lama was set to arrive, the PMO announced there would be a meeting between the two, though it was in no way an official visit, and only "spiritual matters" would be discussed. It was not a one-on-one, and was held at the home of Rev. Marcel Gervais, Roman Catholic archbishop of Ottawa with many others present. From the Ottawa Citizen, April 16, 2003: "Martin's aides have said once China understands the limited scope of the meeting, all will be forgiven."

It was not a gutsy move. Domestic and international exposure were making Paul Martin look ridiculous. The waffling over this meeting contributed greatly to the perception of the PM as Mr. Dithers. As Don Martin wrote in the Calgary Herald on April 9, 2004:

Martin's office continues to fudge and fidget on the delicate question of granting the Dalai Lama the courtesy of a coffee break when he visits Ottawa later this month...

Never mind that the leaders of most world powers have chatted with the Dalai Lama in his spiritual capacity or as winner of a Nobel Peace Prize and never suffered a retaliatory loss of business.

Fact is, the year following the Dalai Lama's chat with U.S. President George W. Bush, U.S. trade with China grew considerably faster than Canada-China commerce.

And, besides, who our prime minister meets or greets is entirely his decision and not subject to a foreign power's veto.

But what's even more alarming is how the government's foot-dragging on this innocuous invitation is symptomatic of Martin's chronic failure to show decisive leadership.

Posted by Kevin Steel on November 19, 2006 | Permalink


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You missed the sentence most worth complaining about by one - the one following those you quote. Ditchburn writes, "In general, both Chretien and Martin were more predisposed to engage China, aggressively pushing trade links while raising the rights issues behind closed doors." While the two sentences you quote are statements of fact (whatever their significance might be) the following one has a much stronger editorializing tone. It is hard to know on what basis one could think that Harper has been less "predisposed" to engage China, given that he has just met and engaged their leader without seeming to have to have been dragged to it. Also, it seems to bias a definition of "engage" towards making nice-nice with them. Certainly a more publically combative engagement is a form of engagement, and might well be a more desireable one.

Having said all that, there was one quote from Harper in the story that sounds a bit troubling. He says, "The fact of the matter is that neglecting human rights hasn't opened a lot of doors either. So obviously, we don't think you get anywhere by shortchanging your values." It sounds like he is saying that the reason to not consider shortchanging one's values is not just because it is the right thing to do, but because we already know that there will not be economic consequences, so we are in the clear. He probably meant to say (or was trying to say ... or did say in the course of his entire statements to the press) that trading values for business is bad even if it hurts business, but even those who think business does matter more have no reason to think holding our tongue on values will help. At least, I hope that's what he meant.

Posted by: Mark Logan | 2006-11-19 12:18:05 PM

How in hell would Ditchburn know what Chretien and Martin were "predisposed to do" behind closed doors rights issues with the PRC, because Chretien could care less, and Martin would not know exactly how to begin without some Chinese or Canadian Flunky to guide him through the protocol before the Chinese Mandarins threw him out. Harper is proving to be a real statesman, whom Canadians should be proud of.

Posted by: Jack MacLeod | 2006-11-19 12:28:48 PM

I will guess that Mark Logan who never misses an opportunity to make himself look stupid, hangs out here with the big dogs because the little yappy mutts on the Lefty blogs make no sense and the smell of patchouli would make one nauseous after awhile.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-11-19 1:08:24 PM


I don't mind Mark Logan's criticism of my posts, or anyone's for that matter. All are welcome here.


I did notice the paragraph you mention and its editorializing tone. I'm gratified you pointed it out though because it is always heartening for me to see others notice editorial content in news wire stories. (Sometimes I rag on this point and get tiresome, even to myself.) It's always been there, but its always worth critiquing because it does colour public perceptions. And when the news wire copy becomes the basis for so many subsequent stories, the editorial tone can get amplified.

Your second paragraph illustrates a greater difficulty the public has in determining what was said and why, a difficultly that is exaggerated in print because the context sometimes just isn't there. Someone is quoted, but you can't tell if they are qualifying another statement, responding to a question or what. And if responding to a question, what prompted the question in the first place?

Actually, that was the point I was trying to make in my post "A fine Canadian Press mess" as I tried to untangle just how that whole story got started. Was the meeting written in the press itinerary with a big X through it? Did Buckler just waltz up to the press in Ottawa on Tuesday night--on the eve of the PM's departure--and start babbling about this meeting with the Chinese that has been cancelled and we don't know why which btw you press people up until now have never heard about? It seemed unlikely, but I could be wrong. Or was Buckler responding to a question from CP? What would prompt that question? You would need some knowledge of this meeting to ask it. Was it prompted by a tip from someone hoping to discredit the Tories? I still haven't figured that one out. I don't suppose it matters now. I didn't see any factual basis in either the CP story nor the Globe piece for calling it a "snub." I did see in the days that followed a comment in a Don Martin column about how the PM left the Chinese no way to "save face." But it seemed to me the person who started the story left both Canada and China with no way out; both had to maintain strong positions to remain consistent and save face. This "Mr. Dithers and the Dalai Lama" post attempts to show how waffling can cause a Canadian leader to lose face.

Posted by: Kevin Steel | 2006-11-19 1:40:19 PM

I hate to change the subject, but for a moment ... the wind up of the kyoto Afro-Fest in Kenya has provided more laughter for those of us who think for ourselves.

Check out the new tool some scientists, one is even a Nobel winner of some sort, have come up with to solve the problems with Earth's environment.

Even though the Earth has been looking after itself for a few billion years it is apparently in need of our help in it's dotage.

Check it out here


Posted by: Duke | 2006-11-19 2:13:18 PM

Duke -

I think Logan comes here for the enlightened discussion where credible data is assembled, fallacy is exposed through logic and right reason is applied, in Hegel like fashion, via thesis /anti-thesis to arrive at some understanding of an issue. Certainly it is refreshing here- with all the refined discourse one never finds an ad hominem appeal such as the like always being made by yappy little lefty muts o'er at their blogs.

Are you calling Logan stupid because he strengthens Kevin's point ? I think what you meant to post was " I didn't understand a word Logan wrote ".

Posted by: Nbob | 2006-11-19 2:24:40 PM

It's pointless for Canadian to get involved into this which doesn't make any difference.

Posted by: yachi | 2006-11-19 2:51:42 PM

where is Harper?


Posted by: yachi | 2006-11-19 2:52:44 PM

And let's zoom out to find Harper, where is he?

It's simply not Canadian business to mess up with this. For a country like Canada, economic issue should always be on the top list.


Posted by: yachi | 2006-11-19 2:59:41 PM

Can we assume journalists, use the term loosely, like Ditchburn, are fancying themselves as soothsayers and fiction writers?
You either know the facts or you don't write them.

It's all this manipulation of facts and even fiction that skews the opinion of the average voter.

Truer words were never spoken than the quote by Sir Winston Churchill, "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter". This is especially true when they rely on media for FACTS!

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-11-19 3:19:09 PM

From the Ditchburn dust up at the CBC months ago, after which she's nowhere to be seen except in print, and knowing her dislike of our Prime Minister, I think it can be fairly assumed--and border on being an educated guess--that she's writing fiction-cum-spin, especially when it comes to PMSH and the CPC.

The "snub" talk, I'm sure, was pure fabrication on the part of the anti-Harperites. I listen to the CBC news in the morning, as a byproduct of listening to Music and Company (which is a great show and, except for the Arts commentary, usually delivered by a very gay voice, is more or less a-political). I seldom cease to be outraged by the anti-Harper, anti-Ambrose, anti-MacKay, anti-CPC, pro-Godfrey, pro-Goodale, pro-Graham, pro-anything-Librano spin the CBC reporters put on pretty much everything.

Frankly, I've got to the point where I don't watch I'm Peter Mansbridge and You're Not, Don Newman, Evan Soloman, or any of the CBC political commentary, because the commentary and many of the panelists are so biased against our PM and his Party.

What really pi**es me off is that they either don't see it (in which case, they must be totally blind) or they do see it and totally understand it, totally sanction it, and don't give a damn. Lucky us. When you've got the media acting as an unofficial Opposition, with a ton of clout because, as Liz J. via Winston Churchill points out, most voters are know-nothings and think that the MSM delivers facts into their living rooms every day, you've got a toxic mix that's going to do democracy in.

On another thread, I said that Canada, thanks to 13 years of the Librano$ (and I could have added the Canadian MSM, like Ditchburn, Don Martin, and co., and the cabal at the CBC, sauf Rex Murphy) is barely a country. With the MSM daily, hourly, tearing one part of the political spectrum apart, added to the zombie-like state of many Canadians after 35 years of cradle to grave socialist coddling (thanks, Pierre), you wonder where it's all headed.

I agree with Jack McLeod that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is becoming not only a consummate politician but a statesman. If the useful idiots in the media can't tell the difference between him and the raggle-taggle band of imposters over in the Librano camp, and if they help deliver a Librano victory in the next election, I figure that Canada as a country to take seriously might just as well fold.

I've felt disenfranchised in this country since the '70s (before that, I was too young to care about politics, though I did sit up and take notice when an idiot started showing up in a black cape, with a rose between his teeth). Only since Stephen Harper became PM have I felt "back in the loop." If the MSM delivers the Librano$ another electoral victory, I'm going to have to do some hard thinking about moving.

Sad Canada.

Posted by: 'been around the block | 2006-11-19 4:54:24 PM

You sound like someone right out of the Chinese

Posted by: Stevie | 2006-11-19 5:03:03 PM

Does anyone know what happened to Ditchburn's cohort, Christina Lawand?
It appears controversy over their reporting got too hot even for the CBC.

They really should keep on going with a real purge but that won't happen without a majority Conservative Government at which point they'll all be choking to death on crow.

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-11-19 5:16:54 PM

Yeah, Yachi's problem isn't his/her English. It's her/his thinking.

Posted by: 'been around the block | 2006-11-19 5:25:58 PM

I simply show the fact that who dictates the talks in this world, and Harper is not among them.

Somebody just can't stand that fact.

Posted by: yachi | 2006-11-19 5:57:21 PM

Yachi says, "I simply show the fact that who dictates the talks in this world, and Harper is not among them.

"Somebody just can't stand that fact."


Stephen Harper says, quietly, "Just watch me."

'Ever heard of the doctrine of reserve, Yachi?

Posted by: 'been around the block | 2006-11-19 6:06:46 PM

who cares what china thinks, there a communist tyranny using western dollars to prop up there military and socialist version of warlord rule. what are they going to do, give up billions of dollars in crap sent to us. oh gee, we cant upset anybody if economics are involved. its a good thing we didnt have that mindset during world war two or the liberals and business community would have had us debating for years which side we should join to best suit us trade wise. and the ndp would have us sending a peace mission to hitler

Posted by: john a. | 2006-11-19 6:52:44 PM

Actually it was a liberal PM that sent Canadian troops out in WWII....

Posted by: yachi | 2006-11-19 7:40:48 PM

And it was a Liberal PM who sent a boat load of Jews from our shores back to the concentration camps of the Bastard of all Bastards, Hitler.
Thankfully we are now more humane, in some cases even at our own peril. We still haven't gotten the right balance.
With the Charter of Rights and Multiculturalism, Trudeau's handy work, along side our immigration choices over the past two decades we have ourselves the makings of severe turmoil and endless court challenges. The only people smiling are immigration lawyers.

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-11-19 7:55:59 PM

It is an increasingly serious problem in Canada when two of the three major media organizations are totally biased against the government elected by a majority of citizens to the point where truth is either ignored or motivated elsewhere. Ditchburn has another piece using her CP Byline today, which is obviously published to elicit some sympathy for the
"downtrodden press". Well WalMart needs good people
and many of the current crop of "journalists", products of the socialist horde Journalism Schools
cannot write to acceptable newspaper standards in any event. In my lifetime I have seen the standards of journalism reach the lowest point of credibility ever. I hope that the impact of the Western Standard can change that, and has made an impact of the Asper media for sure. It is interesting to me that the best reporting on the East Coast of Canada is found in the Halifax based Coltsfoot Publishing Co., otherwise known as "Frank" and in Central Canada in the "Hill Times"
which features some of the best reporters in our fair land. MacLeod

Posted by: Jack MacLeod | 2006-11-20 5:00:23 AM


Zerbisias reported on Troll McLellost's myblague that Lawand quit after CBC had to admit 'problems' exposed by Stephen Taylor.

One down.

Posted by: ceebyjeebied | 2006-11-20 6:16:23 AM

Jack, it is a minority government.

John A., Canadian companies design some of that crap and get China to make it to keep the costs down. Shoppers have the choice to pay more for things that are made in Canada if they like.

John M Reynolds

Posted by: jmrSudbury | 2006-11-20 7:50:32 AM

The Conservative Government is a Minority only in the sense that the Opposition including the "official opposition" have more "seats" than the Conservatives, which actually means that Canadians rejected the Liberals, the N.D.P. and the Bloc, and will not accept a move by a consortium of these political parties to defeat the Government, particularly the Bloc who do not under any circumstance represent Canadian values. they are quite sharp in picking out seventy nine cent faxes.
No doubt that a majority, silent for the moment support Harper and his Country Bumpkins, best government the Country has had for many decades
and I was a teenager when MacKenzie King was PM and talking to his dead dog and Mother. MacLeod

Posted by: Jack MacLeod | 2006-11-20 10:51:59 AM

One of the most precise truisms I;ve seen posted anywhere on the Canadian blogosphere abut the nature of the Canadian manstream media and staus quo Ottawa politics is when Keven Steel elided to the fact that Ottawa reporter/commentators only say 1/10 of what they know is really going on "if they know what's good for them".

I figure this is why the obvious patronage liks between Powercor and the LPC and the PM and leaders of other provincial parties has never been noted in our media....it's obvious there is an unhealthy conflict of interest between past LPC PMs and powercor as well as powercor investnment....China being a major one. China investment has always been a priority of Powercor PMs because the boss is heavily invested there.

Now regardless of the knee jerk reactionaries who think political history is punctuated with "coincidence" rather than conspiratoriual agendas, do you suppose if the last 4 US presidents and foreign service maderins as well as the governors of new york and California came from Haliburon's executive ranks that it would raise a media eyebrow down there?

In Canada we have had 4 PMs in a row come from the ranks of Powercor, we have 3 ex provincial premiers sitting on Powercor's boards, Powercors influence on federal politics is obvious...why does the press not explor it? Are we to belive Desmarais is the first mulyi millionaire who sponsors the political careers of ex directors for pure patriotism asking nothing in return??

If this is the mindset of the MSM then maybe we'll see an ad for the sale of the Floriada mountain chalets Star's front page soon ;-)

Posted by: Wlyonmackenzie | 2006-11-20 11:22:18 AM

Wlyonmackenzie: There's a real shut-down in the media about Power Corp and Paul Desmarais. I've asked on other blogs, and here on other posts, what the MSM would be doing if the Conservatives were so intimately connected to a mega-corporation like Power Corp.

There's absolutely no appetite for any of the media to "bite" at this very tasty story. Well, scandal, actually. It's a well-kept "secret," and there is absolutely a conspiracy of silence about the Desmarais/Power Corp's influence in the LPC, their past four PMs and, now, in Bob Rae's (and, some say, Iggy's) run in the LPC leadership race.

It is unconscionable that no one will speak up. As I said at another post here, quoting I forget who, "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do [and say] nothing."

It's as though the Canadian public and our media have all laid down and said to these power brokers "Go ahead, walk all over us. We don't mind." Talk about a death wish. We're a country of suicidal mutes.

I am very proud of the present CPC government and Prime Minister Harper as they do not appear to be in kahoots with the Desmarais' Power Corp (though I know that Brian Mulroney was, which may explain why I was so disappointed in his "Conservative" government).

I just posted over at TVO's The Agenda, a suggestion that they do a Thursday night show on "Liberal hegemony." I don't think it's about to happen! Thank God, Mark Steyn has written about it, which may be exactly why he doesn't have a writing job in Canada.

What a country! No better than a Banana Republic, while all the while--especially under the Chretien/Martin goverments--the LPC has held itself up as a Party that is morally superior to c/Conservatives. What brazen chicanery, which our MSM has been happy to promote. Our journalists should have to be elected to be allowed to do this job, seeing as they have such a huge influence in shaping opinion.

SOMEONE should be holding the Libs and the MSM to account, and for the time being, it's the blogosphere and PMSH's minority government. A David and Goliath story. Let's hope, in the next election, that the CPC can find the right stone...

Posted by: 'been around the block | 2006-11-20 12:50:26 PM

It's down to the average voter to be smart and not be taken in by the Snake Oil Salespeople, aka Liberals.
There is a frantic movement right now by the Television and Print Media to get the Liberals re-elected, to get them back their perks and make their jobs easier. To some extent, the radio talk shows are more balanced.

In Ottawa,AM radio station CFRA has a balance. Mornings from 9am to noon it has Lowell Green, definitely Conservative and from 1pm to 3pm it's Michael Harris who has a hatred on for Harper and the Conservatives and links them up with Bush and Iraq. There is a balance.

I love to repeat a quote of Sir Winston Churchill's "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter." That's our biggest challenge, people getting sucked in by smiles and handouts, which kept the Liberals in power too long.

The problem now is the Libs are troubled with the shorts, short on cash, short on power and Power Corps can't help them legally. This is killing them, they need first the power, then the money to keep it.
With new laws in place on funding caps etc. they would have to get back to brown bagging it, unless they've learned their lesson.

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-11-20 2:06:05 PM

So Liz, I just MUST ask. If Power Corp cannot help the Liberals legally, what are your thoughts for how they will help them in, er, uh, less than legal ways? Or are you suggesting that Power Corp will not help the Liberals financially under the new rules?

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2006-11-20 2:20:35 PM

Brent Weston: Guess they will do all the laws allow, would never suggest illegal ways, gimme a break!

Power Corps aside, many of us tend to have a gut feeling and faith in the great unwashed that we will have a Conservative Government for some time. Decades of Liberal largess has come crashing down on us. We are hearing a lot of weeping from those who are having trouble with the weaning process.

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-11-20 3:05:16 PM

Brent and Liz; How do the Powercorp outfit keep the "Oil for Food" craven business with Saddam under the table? How did the political players in the Liberano$ party keep the 'oil for food' egregious 'arrangements' off the radar screen of average people? Most people here who say that USA is not 'helping' the people of Iraq would be horrified to think that the 'holier than thou' Liberano$ would profit, through the 'UN', on the backs of the poor people in Iraq's world during Saddam's reign of terror. These Liberano$ and their 'friends' snatched money out of the mouths of starving babies and they lost a lot of $$$ when USA invaded Iraq and caught the brute Saddam. The Black Gold tap was turned off and the erstwhile George W Bush, President of the United States of America, PM Tony Blair- Great Britain, PM Mr Howard - Australia and other members of the Coalition of the Willing - willing to stop torture and starvation in Iraq and nuculear attacks on Israel and us were demonized by - wait for it - the msm!! (and the Dipper/Liberano$/Blocheads)
Could there be some 'connection' here?

Posted by: jema54j | 2006-11-20 9:00:40 PM


Let us all learn well the lesson from the iceberg: 90% of the substance is not visible to the average viewer.

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2006-11-21 7:31:05 AM

Doubtful you'll see Libranos sitting at a glass topped table any time soon. They'll have to seek sustenance for some time to come doing business as usual, playing footsies and doing under the table deals to fight that evil Harper and his Rubes!
"God help us one and all."

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-11-21 8:09:47 AM

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