Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien made headlines this week when he suggested Canada should ease tensions with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by essentially breaking the law and releasing Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou who was arrested in Vancouver at the request of the U.S. government.
Meng was arrested on December 1, 2018 as she was changing flights. U.S. authorities want her to face charges of fraud and using a subsidiary company to contravene U.S. Sanctions against the regime in Iran.
Chrétien’s suggestion was met with rejection by Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland who said it would set a dangerous precedent. Former MP and career diplomat Chris Alexander called it “an ill-considered moment.”
My guess is that it was very well-considered by Chrétien. Knowing his history and links with the government of the PRC, it’s easy to see him siding with the Communists and not with the U.S.
When Chrétien was out of government after he left politics and he failed to get the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, losing to John Turner, he was employed by Gordon Capital owned by Li Ka Shing and run by one of his sons. It was there Chrétien made his millions which set up his return to politics, taking the leadership of the LPC and ultimately serving for a decade as Prime Minister.
A government, I might add, that was marked by one scandal after another and, in my opinion, was the most corrupt government this country has ever seen.
The biggest of which involved Project Sidewinder which was directly related to his former employer, Asian Triads, the government of the PRC and their efforts to gain influence over our government by various means.
Project Sidewinder was a joint RCMP/CSIS initiative in the mid-90’s looking at connections between the various entities, Canadian businesses they had stakes in, and the connections to Canadian politicians and the political process and resulting influence.
The report documented the rise of CITIC (China International Trust Investment & Company) which essentially became the biggest arms dealer in the world among other things. It started with a meeting on May 23, 1982 attended by Li, Henry Fok, Zhao Ziyang and then Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping.
The purpose was to, ostensibly, discuss how things might look after the British handover of Hong Kong in 1997. The PRC wanted access to capital markets and the ‘businessmen’ wanted the status quo under the Communists. The Asian Triads wanted to ensure their illicit business activities would be allowed to continue.
CITIC was formed and Li and Fok were on the original Board of Directors.
In the 90’s Chrétien’s son-in-law Andre Desmarais, was appointed to the Board. Oddly enough Chrétien was then Prime Minister.
The Desmarais family runs among other things Power Corp. the Quebec firm with global holdings and big supporters of the LPC. Then VP John Rae, brother of Bob Rae, former Ontario NDP Premier and later an LPC cabinet minister, was head of Chrétien’s election campaigns.
Sidewinder identified all the connections as well as the Canadian business interests of the investigation targets which included things like CIBC and Husky Energy.
The purpose of Sidewinder was essentially a business case for a full-blown investigation into all of this by the RCMP and CSIS.
That never happened. The Project was killed by someone with the authority to tell the RCMP and CSIS what to do. Investigators involved believe it came on orders from the PMO of Chrétien.
Several years later, a review on those accusations was done by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), the civilian oversight board for CSIS. The SIRC report was filed during the fall election of 2000. It said there was no involvement by the PMO and the report was little more than unfounded rumours. The man leading SIRC at the time was Bob Rae.
The Sidewinder report clearly says, “This document does not present theories but indicators of a multifaceted threat to Canada’s national security based on concrete facts drawn from the databanks of the two agencies involved.”
Chrétien’s fingerprints were all over it and ensured the corruption investigation into Asian Organized Crime, relations with the government of the PRC and their connections with Canadian politicians never occurred.
Is it any wonder Chrétien suggested we acquiesce to the government of the PRC in the Meng/Huawei extradition affair?
I’d be surprised if he came to any other conclusion. A leopard, after all, doesn’t change its spots.