The Toronto District School Board and China, an unlikely alliance
This is a guest column; 'Mihael Willman' is the pseudonym for a concerned Canadian – Jeff Goodall
By Mihael Willman
Canadian politicians at all levels of government appear to be living in la-la-land when it comes to their attitude towards or relations with the communist Peoples Republic of China.
Can anyone just imagine the uproar that would have arisen if Toronto District School Board trustees had made trips to the Soviet Union to learn Russian or seek to pursue partnership with Soviet government officials, before the collapse of the Soviet Union? And at Moscow's expense? Yet that is just what TDSB trustees and staff are doing with regard to communist China! And there is not a single whimper of protest from any level of government or from the Canadian public at large. Residents and taxpayers of Toronto, for the most part, appear to be completely unaware that this is even going on.
According to a report in the Toronto Sun by Moira MacDonald, over the last two years 37 TDSB trustees and staff have travelled to China 'to pursue partnerships and language learning opportunities.' While the schoolboard spent about $107,000 in airfare, expenses on the ground, which included five-star hotels and expensive restaurants, was at Beijing's expense. School board trustee Irene Atkinson, who visited China two years ago, informed MacDonald that the Chinese 'spared no expense.' Anyone who believes that this is just a 'goodwill' gesture or China's version of foreign aid, I've got a bridge I could sell you.
The Chinese government must be applauding their good fortune in finding such gullible, easily manipulated foreigners to do their bidding. Beijing and the communist government of China would like nothing more than to flood Canada, (as well as other western countries), with government agents, spies and agents of influence, be they newly arrived Chinese immigrants, exchange students and researchers, or businessmen buying up Canadian resources and companies. How better to destroy your enemy then from within? No need to resort to warfare.
Many Canadians and Americans will probably ridicule as paranoia this suspicion of Chinese government activities and ambitions. It is twenty years since the Soviet Union collapsed and many young people have grown up with little or no knowledge of the threats that communism posed to our democratic way of life. Even after the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia still sent spies to live in the United States to spy on that country from within. Can anyone believe that China, which remains a communist, one-party dictatorship, is not doing the same? Just because it has embraced capitalism as a way to achieve economic superiority does not mean that Beijing has abandoned any quest to destroy democracy, a goal of all communists since Lenin and Stalin.
The Toronto school board says it gets about $9 million in revenue from Chinese students who come here to study, while also benefitting from student and teacher exchanges between Toronto and China. Wonder how many of these same students will then go on to study at Canadian universities courtesy of scholarships from these same universities, at the expense of our own students? According to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, these Chinese foreign students, with their Canadian education, would make good potential immigrants! With Canadian university degrees one can only imagine the jobs that will be available to them, maybe even federal or provincial government jobs, because employers are not allowed to discriminate when hiring.
Beijing and the Chinese Communist government could not wish for anything better then to get their citizens into positions of influence. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, it is not difficult for Beijing to find enough politically reliable communists to send abroad to do their bidding. If anyone believes that emigrants from the PRC have not been carefully vetted for their loyalty to Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party, then they are truly naive and need to be given a wakeup call asap.
People who travelled to the Soviet Union to attend Soviet-sponsored events or activities were usually pro-communist sympathizers, most often members of the Communist Party of Canada, or naive fellow-travellers. Their trips were to learn tactics on how to help further the plans of the Kremlin upon their return to Canada and other democratic countries. While these Chinese trips may not be in the same category, the Communist Chinese government is certainly hoping to achieve what the Soviet Union was unable to do.
Trade considerations are influencing many western countries to minimize or downplay the threat from Chinese spies or agents to their national security. Yet the threat remains ever-present. The PRC may be an economic powerhouse, but it is still a communist, one-party dictatorship, which has little or no regard for human rights and the rule of democracy. We should not be cozying up to it for whatever reason, monetary gain or misguided naivete.
China is not the only country Canadian teachers or students, not to mention TDSB officials, can travel to for Chinese-language training. There are two other countries, Taiwan and Singapore, which would be much more suitable in this regard. Furthermore, why are we not recruiting foreign students from these two countries instead of the PRC? As mentioned in a previous article, at any given time there are 60,000 Chinese students studying at Canadian universities. Not available is the number that are attending Canadian high schools. In addition, there are probably Chinese-language schools in Canada which could be utilized to learn Chinese. Of course we have yet to find a single politician who would not jump at the chance to travel to exotic places, appropriate or not, on someone else's dime.
There is an old saying: "If you lay down with a giant be prepared to get crushed." A good piece of advice or warning for the TDSB, and Canadian politicians in general, who seem to think that dealing with China is the same as dealing with our traditional allies: no threat to our future or even continued existence as free, democratic, sovereign nations. Wake up and smell the coffee, before it is too late!
See Moira MacDonald's Toronto Sun article "The China Syndrome" here.
On July 17th, 2013, it was reported that the Toronto District School Board had opened an office in China in order to recruit more Chinese foreign students. Of interest is the fact that this office has been open since April, yet only now has this fact come to light!
See Moira MacDonald's article "Toronto school board opens Beijing office in attempt to lure more foreign students" in the National Post here. -MW.