Ethics Above Business – Prime Minister Is Right

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We take many of our freedoms for granted in Canada. Over long periods of time, through many of our founding fathers such as LaFontaine and Baldwin, then George-Etienne Macdonald, Cartier, Laurier, Diefenbaker, Pearson, and Trudeau, they fought for our basic freedoms which took many painful turns and killed many a reputation. The end result however, has been that Canadians today enjoy the fruits which are institutionalized in our Canadian Constitution and Canada Bill of Rights. To that end we are all insured these basic rights; mobility rights, legal rights, equality rights, official language rights, minority rights, education rights and enforcements rights. To be a little more specific, we also have these freedoms:

a) freedom of conscience and religion;

b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

d) freedom of association.

There are countless countries in the world that, today as you read this article, are completely ignoring basic human rights of its own citizens. Of all that do, there is only one in the pack of these less advanced countries I unwillingly contribute to and so do you - China. Just about all, if not 70% of the items I purchase are made or assembled or manufactured in China, resulting in a portion of my Canadian purchase dollars returning to China and thus directly supporting the Chinese Communist Government. Here’s why I’m upset. Of all the countless inhumane acts carried out upon its citizens, China’s top cruel act deals with freedom of conscience and religion. Prime Minster Harper has been right and continues to be right in irritating Beijing by openly criticizing China on its human rights issues and meeting with the Dalai Lama to discuss such draconian human rights policies placed on Chinese people. China’s Premier Wen Jiabao has the audacity to openly re-bunk our Prime Minister for not visiting China sooner, as the Chinese government attempts to purchase many of our national resources. This is China’s way to re-direct the public’s attention from their backward-hostile policies to our Prime Minister and thus all Canadians, because our Prime Minister’s initially expressed courage, stands on ethical/moral ground based on our country’s shared ethical human rights values.

For two years I have written monthly letters to the Ambassador of China to Canada copying our MLA Jim Brownell and MP Guy Lauzon seeking the Ambassador’s intervention on the imprisonment of Chinese who have, for lack of better words, been doing time For God. Mr. Brownell has supported this International Human Rights violation from the very start and has taken up the cause by speaking directly to our

Premier who in turn has spoken to the Prime Minister. Mr. Lauzon, for his part, was a little slower out of the gate, but in a response letter to me said he spoke with the Minister of Foreign Affairs in support of these violations. At that point I was extremely proud of these two elected officials and even more so when I read that at a United Nations meeting to review China’s record on human rights, Canada was among western countries that took a firm stand with China’s widespread use of the death penalty, along with its harassment, arbitrary arrest, detention and punishment of religious minorities.

Just how serious are these violations? Well we know there are two hundred Chinese residents, (but that number could be five times that) we also know of nineteen (19) bishops and eighteen (18) priests, all imprisoned simply because of their religious believes. These prisons aren’t good-time camps. As reported in the editorial of the New York Times that provides the evidence of the harshness of these religious leaders imprisonment, “more than 10 of those now deprived of liberties had previously completed sentences of up to 25 years. The 83-year old Rev Anthony Zhang Kangyi, an acclaimed World War 11 hero with the Italian resistance, has spent 30 years in prison since 1949. Lin Xiangao, a 65 year old Protestant Pastor, had served a 20 year sentence before February 1990, when authorities arrested him and ransacked and closed his church. The Rev. Philip Wang Ziyanf died in prison January 31, 1990 at the age of 90, having spent more than 30 years in a forced labour camp.”

China just really doesn’t care what the outside world says and does, and firmly believes that the world needs them and not the other way around. After listening to Canada’s and other country’s suggestions to improve their human rights record, China simply rejected these submissions by the United Nations Human Rights Council. It was then that my hopes were dashed, but then President Obama comes along with his new approach to foreign policy of using diplomacy instead of power, rekindling once again my hope for an Asian break which would be based on common values and mutual interests. One may only imagine the disappointment I felt upon hearing the USA’s new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, saying “considering human rights in China is a secondary concern to economic survival…”. Mr. Kumar of Amnesty International USA in responding said it best “the global rights lobby is shocked and extremely disappointed”, as most humanistic people should be, money over lives.

Placing economics ahead of human rights is just ethically, morally and consciously wrong. I guess Ms. Clinton hasn’t taken the time to read her husband’s book GIVING – How Each of Us Can Change The World, but then again I understand she hasn’t been listening to Bill’s philosophic needs for years, now has she? With China owning in excess of $600 billion of US government debt and a future source of buying even more of their debt as President Obama increases spending to now $10.3 trillion, what else could she do? I reckon in the USA money permits you to do business with any of the three so-called “axels” of evil, North Korea, Iran and China.

Human Rights don’t hit the radar screen when it comes to increasing corporate profits. Coca-Cola Co. has a US $2.3 billion Chinese takeover, PepsiCo is spending US$1-billion along with good old capitalistic Wal-Mart Stores Inc. moving into China. Let’s not forget one of Canada’s star companies, Bombardier Inc. which is aggressively seeking its share of US$280 billion of China’s rail development. Values, morals, and ethics have little to do when it comes to money in Canada either it seems. Former Affairs Minister David Emerson, NOT the Poster Boy for Integrity, who jumped ship from the Liberals which elected him in B.C is now on the board of the Canada -China Business Council, and his former policy advisor, Barret Bingley, is living in Hong Kong and has his own advisory and corporate finance firm, Sinam Business Bridge. Both are attempting to bring more Canadian business to this mega moneymaker over human rights capital. But then again, both Bingley and Emerson have the core morals needed to lead such an adventure, now don’t they!

In the recent past, China sent its troops into Tibet in what it called “to firmly crush the savage aggression of the Dalai Lama clique, defeat separatism and maintain stability”, as the region approached the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s fight into exile on March 10, 2009. Simultaneously, Canadian banks led by the Bank of Montreal sent top executives to meet with Chinese officials to increase their bottom line via business opportunities. Like baldheaded vultures swooping down from black skies, the banks see that China’s GNP is almost at a standstill and with twenty millions Chinese out of work the opportunity to move in is now before China gets more of that International Monitories Fund giving them more world power. China may not have funds to stabilize its economy or feed its people, but it does have money to commence stockpiling oil with a 20 year deal with Russia (great alliance) which secures 10% of its oil imports. Much like Mr. Potter, the greedy old bank owner in It’s a Wonderful Life, our banks, along with major national corporations, are indirectly helping to sponsor the torture of individuals in China simply because of their religious beliefs. How can anyone buy products and services from companies that knowingly sell their corporate soul for dollars? Not me, not any more. The abuse of civil rights by China makes it plain beyond all my doubts that this Communistic country has passed afar the subversive to remain in complete control of its citizens and does not deserve to conduct trade in this country until those most basic human rights are secured for all Chinese people. I’d ask that all our Canadian federal political parties stand tall for rights which every citizen in the world has at the moment they’re born, and personally I don’t care what it financially costs. So think twice before buying Chinese products for it seems that might be the only thing the Chinese and our moralistic Canadian and American companies understand. Meanwhile, tell your MP and his leader that you belief in ethics before business for your ethics are not for sale.

Organizations: United Nations, New York Times, United Nations Human Rights Council Amnesty International USA Coca-Cola Co. PepsiCo Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Bombardier Inc. China Business Council Bank of Montreal International Monitories Fund

Geographic location: China, Canada, USA Beijing North Korea Iran B.C Hong Kong Tibet Russia

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