Why other countries, such as China, pay for our politicians to visit
Posted by Author on July 7, 2010
Brian Stewart, CBC News, Canada, Wednesday, July 7, 2010 –
I have no idea whether CSIS director Richard Fadden’s concerns about any growing foreign influence on Canadian politics are valid or not.
I do believe, however, that an extraordinary number of Canadian public officials are acting in ways that are inappropriate, risky and just plain dumb in accepting lavish favours from foreign nations with questionable motives.
Especially at a time when all Western intelligence services seem to agree that global espionage is now more prevalent than even during the Cold War.
Most cases are not as dramatic as the recent Russian spy scandal in the U.S., but spying nations are increasingly aggressive in trying to recruit local “agents of influence” to advance their own economic and political objectives.
In the process, there are many favours that foreign capitals bestow on our politicians in the hunt for some future advantage.
These can range from discrete political support in local ridings, funnelled through sympathetic associations or business leaders, to glamorous hospitality junkets.
The most obvious is the all-expenses paid fact-finding trip in which one is “treated like an emperor,” according to a recipient of one such China junket, former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan.
I doubt we have any clear notion how many of our elected officials revel in the hospitality of countries like China, Taiwan, Israel and a dozen others with powerful Canadian agendas.
As just the very tip of the iceberg, 53 MPs last year — many accompanied by spouses — accepted more than $432,000 in travel costs paid for by foreign governments or their lobby groups.
Provincial and municipal figures are also heavily courted this way, a point made by the CSIS director in his controversial interviews with CBC.
Let’s be clear here: None of these trips are offered without the hope of influencing our politicians.
They are carefully planned, often by the host nation’s intelligence arm. The generous host always seeks long-term relationships and “understandings.”
We should also be clear that we’re not talking about the normal and proper diplomatic courtship on the cocktail circuits or routine state visits.
We are talking about free flights, hotel rooms, banquets and tours costing tens of thousands of dollars in many cases, which go well beyond what elected officials should be pocketing……. (to be cont’d)
-From CBC News
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