Vive Le Canada

Harper 'Finds' Celil Case
Date: Thursday, November 23 2006

Embassy, November 22nd, 2006
By Dan McTeague
Harper 'Finds' Celil Case
Like a true epiphany, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has "found" Huseyin Celil on the road to Anchorage.

However, one can see that Mr. Harper's epiphany was perhaps due more to entanglement in his own international ineptitude, and that he was merely trying to deflect attention from his own ideologically driven anti-China position–a position that was becoming a little too public.

Let us not forget that it was one of Mr. Harper's caucus colleagues in the last parliament who proposed a bill to give de facto recognition to Taiwan.

Unfortunately, upon assuming power, the prime minister could not resist his personal distaste for China. To show what he thinks about the rising economic superpower, our PM began his tenure by accusing the Chinese of having spies roaming Canada's streets. Out the window went Canada's long-standing effort to promote democracy in China and, quite possibly, our opportunities to directly discuss human rights issues with Beijing.

To further the initial setback in Canada-China relations, Mr. Harper has now rushed headlong, under the cloak of brave-statesman-standing-up-to-the-evil-doers, into openly chastising China on its poor human rights record. Even more astounding to some international observers, Mr. Harper is suggesting that he will impart his newfound wisdom on human rights to the Chinese, and not get too worried with tawdry trade concerns. In the process, he boldly champions the newly discovered case of Mr. Celil.

As someone who worked behind the scenes with other Liberals to get Chinese assurances that Mr. Celil would not be executed, afforded due process of law, and Canadian consular access, I find it strange that the Montreal Gazette and a few other newspapers also seem to have discovered Mr. Celil's plight. Until last week, The Gazette had a whopping two stories over the last year on Mr. Celil–-including one on August 8, in which Mr. Celil's wife was quoted as saying "the PM's intervention would mean everything right now," to save her husband's life.

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on November 24, 2006]


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