Trudeau's office trying to silence ex-diplomats on China, says opposition | Power & Politics

Trudeau's office trying to silence ex-diplomats on China, says opposition | Power & Politics

once again we are seeing Justin Trudeau's attempt to silence people as they try to talk about things that are happening I know that the Prime Minister's office and the Minister of global affairs office have both denied that this happened they said that it didn't come from their office but we've seen these denials before the federal government is facing allegations of inappropriate political interference after two former ambassadors to China confirmed that global affairs Canada called them about public comments they were making about the dispute with China an assistant deputy minister allegedly told the former ambassadors the government would like to speak with one voice on the issue is this political interference joining me now to discuss from Toronto Rob Oliphant is the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Durham Ontario Aaron O'Toole is the Conservatives foreign affairs critic and in Rimouski Quebec Kekaha is the NDP's foreign affairs critic hi to all three of you thanks for joining us I appreciate it mr. Oliphant I'll start with you did someone working for the government invoke the Prime Minister's Office and tell former ambassador to China David Mulrooney to speak with one voice on China in reference not only to the diplomatic dispute with that country but also the upcoming election in this country obviously I wasn't privy to a conversation between an official and an former diplomat what I have been absolutely absolutely told with with complete clarity is there was no direction there was no influence and there was no engagement from either the Prime Minister's office or the Foreign Affairs minister's office to try to muzzle a a former diplomat and nor to direct an official to try to do that and before I got on this show I actually pinned them down and said I don't want to go on a television show to talk about this until I'm absolutely confident absolutely certain it had been told very clearly that there was absolutely no inappropriate behavior and there was no activity that could even be engaged as such and I don't know behavior on the part of this individual or of the government because are you on be part of the government the official I don't know what was said it would be and I would absolutely say would be absolutely inappropriate for assistant deputy minister to make any kind of comments either attributed to the Prime Minister's Office or to an official an elected person and that would be totally inappropriate and I can't speak for that cuz I wasn't in on that conversation all I can be absolutely clear about is that the Prime Minister the Prime Minister's office the minister in the minister's office was not involved in this just to be clear there is no directive or no ask from the federal government of former ambassadors or diplomats of any sort to speak with quote-unquote one voice absolutely not do I actually think that Canada is is more effective if we speak with one voice yes I would be very clear about saying that I'd be very clear about saying that we will take advice from all parties from from former diplomats from current diplomats from academics from business leaders from university presidents even from the Conservatives and the NDP if they have suddenly constructive to offer about this relationship with China but at the same time we would never attempt to direct an official to tell them to do something that was political mr. O'Toole is it possible that this person acted essentially out of turn if the government's overarching intent is kind of help inform former diplomats and academics of what they know what they're doing and solicit their advice to a certain extent isn't that a good thing no because I don't believe the government Vashi it reminds me of how the PMO and the Prime Minister himself said there was no pressure applied on miss Wilson Raible in the SNC affair and we saw that that line was proven false many many times and we've seen this before in fact you remember on the prime ministers disastrous trip to India when there was some criticism coming out in the media for it they sent out Daniel John the national security adviser to run spin against media criticism of their foreign policy actions so this is almost the same situation where two former ambassadors not partisan at all very prominent citizens who steadily have provided some criticisms some advice the government has ignored that advice they've ignored advice from experts from the Conservatives for over seven months the Prime Minister's been failing on China and everyone knows that now they're trying to say you can't speak up and you and speak out you can't criticize them and this whole one voice narrative they're failing so how do you know it's not true how do you know that this individual didn't act you know you know was that her like isn't it possible that they were invoke you know invoking the Prime Minister's office without the explicit direction of the prime minister's office I think after the SNC laven welfare of Ashley nobody believes the Prime Minister's office we also know mr. butts is back there and to me following Foreign Affairs following the India case where they have the national security adviser who usually speaks to nobody pushed out to do media and damage control in the India trip this has been a habit of this government certainly not the clear and transparent and sunny ways government people thought it was going to be four years ago so I would like to to hear from more people because if they went and told two former ambassadors this did they go to university campuses did they go to other prominent voices and try and silence them this should really trouble Canadians on the eve of an election mr. Carroll what do you think I mean mr. OTT mr. Oliphant says he's confident that this didn't come from the Prime Minister's office on background officials have from the Prime Minister's Office and the and GAC have both said the same thing do you have a reason not to believe them I do actually this isn't coming from a rookie public servant it's coming from from an assistant deputy minister who knows better and you know when that assistant deputy minister in a conversation brings the fact that we have to speak with one voice but we have to do it given electoral concerns or electoral the sensitive electoral context that's that's that's really problem and it shows to me that it's not coming from public service it's coming from the the prime minister's office necessary period Minister role is to actually manage the situation not on behalf of a political party not on behalf of the Liberal Party but on behalf of the government and to do – to make that call to ask someone to restrain their freedom of speech despite the fact that they do have an expertise in the field is not something that they would be undertaken without the political direction to do so mr. Oliphant let me ask you my understanding is that we at least what I've been told people on the government side is that this is there is sort of an overarching desire to talk to diplomats and academics again like you said to solicit their opinions I take mr. O'Toole's point that there is a perception that that advice is not being followed at all as well but has there ever been any attempt as part of that strategy to reach out to John McCallum or Jean chrétien and talk to them about what they've been saying about Canada's relationship with China Christian feel and our Minister of Foreign Affairs is talking to everyone talking to diplomats former diplomats opinion leaders academics that's what we do and and and frankly I need to address some of the comments that have been made I'll give you a second before you do that have they reached out to me John McCallum and Jean chrétien not I wouldn't know they have reached out to to countless numbers of people the minister's working on this and and I find it absolutely no less than despicable that Erin O'Toole would make this a political issue we have lives in the balance in this issue this is something that has absolutely seized our government I when you're fine I think conservatives can go to China we have been engaged in this all the way through absolutely critically thoughtfully carefully diplomatically and appropriately and we're there to try to make political hay what they did recently was they put out a YouTube video talking about this issue that Michael Claire's family I have to actually ask them to edit and they did it I think you're trying to make political something that is take your point on the video and the ad but are they not entitled with the opposition mr. Autry admit that so ask your questions give me a moment if you are they not entitled to ask questions about the policy that your government has pursued with respect to China absolutely they can ask them but what we're saying is this is beyond politics this is about lifting up the lives of Canadians and the livelihoods of Canadian farmers it's about lifting them up and saying this is beyond politics this is something that we should be doing in a United Way they can be critical of us that is their their that is their responsibility as opposition members however when they attempt to paint something in completely inappropriate terms with no evidence just casting aspersions and casting accusations with absolutely no authority or credibility then we draw the line five threats taken livelihoods are in the room and he's referencing mr. Oliphant is referencing mr. O'Toole and add that your party put out that that was critical of Justin Trudeau's a approach to this issue in specifically the two Canadians who are detained Michael Kovac and Michael's father it showed their pictures you heard your party hear from someone in the fit and the family and then removed remove the added and so you know is the point that you're trying to overly politicize this one that the government is rightfully making no it was appropriate for us to edit the ad we are going to be holding the Trudeau government to account for their failures on the foreign policy front in fact Canada's never been so alone that's what a former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister has said Rob and the Liberals have failed on this for seven months boshy in fact you remember how they mocked us last December when we said the Prime Minister will need to personally intervene here because it wasn't a regular consular case the two Michels were detained as a tip for tat diplomatic response and the Prime Minister and Minister Freeland failed to reach out they failed to manage expectations with respect to the arrests and we asked them to intervene quickly because we knew this could go very poorly for our citizens and for billions in exports they failed and they actually haven't even listened to our voice or to voices like mr. st. Jacques mr. Mulrooney who've made specific references on sending a special envoy getting talks re-established they've ignored everyone and now that there's criticism they're saying you can't criticize us we should be one voice is there a point though if the criticism if it is considered too political that it could that China could seize on that Oh obviously remember Vashi John McCallum former senior minister of this government former ambassador was in China asking them to help the Liberal Party a few weeks ago so if they're calling former diplomats and asking them to run their comments by the PMO what are they doing with Jacques recho John McCallum John McCallum said to China don't criticize Canada or you'll help the Conservatives almost inviting foreign intervention Berlin to be fair did condemn those comments after the fact around the same time he was there we had a liberal Minister mr. Eng selling ice cream and acting like everything was going well in Beijing it was it was embarrassing quite frankly so I think the government needs to do a reset we've said we would actually work on a bipartisan level with them with prominent Canadians like the ambassadors they're now trying to silence we all want to see mr. Kovarik and mr. favor returned home and then our export access opened up and if if concerned with them now or if we can solve it when we form government in the fall that's going to be a priority last word to you mr. cow yeah respect Rob and I know that he wasn't private because the conversation but someone is lying here I don't believe it's the journalist who came up with a story I don't believe that it's it's mr. Mulrooney I don't believe that it's it's the assistant deputy minister you don't call and saying that you're directly to call by the prime minister's office without that being the case especially from an experienced public servant so all fingers are pointing right now to the prime minister's office that tried to restrict the freedom of speech of a former official a former diplomatic official who's got knowledge on the situation we're talking about a former diplomat getting ambassador to China and I would say before worrying about what former ambassadors are saying I would start thinking about finally appointing a permanent and Basque an ambassador to China to actually help with the situation okay I got to leave it there I'm out of time I apologize thank you very much to all three of you though thanks to Rob Oliphant Erin O'Toole and geekin and I think it's atrocious that the Prime Minister's office feels that they can intervene and interfere in this way I know that the Prime Minister's office and the minister of global affairs office have both denied that this happened they said that it didn't come from their office but we've seen these denials before and in fact we endured an entire spring of having bits and pieces of information come out over and over again about exactly how deep the Prime Minister his office his former and now back again advisor geryl butts in terms of giving information in terms of covering up issues and in terms of trying to silence people as they want to tell the truth the federal government is facing allegations of inappropriate political interference after two former ambassadors to China confirm that global affairs Canada called them about public comments they were making about the dispute with China you just heard Conservative MP Lisa Raitt linking these new allegations to the SNC lavell an affair in the spring calling it a pattern of political interference by the prime minister's office so is that a fair conclusion and will the public make the same links between those issues time for the power panel in Toronto managing director of Macmillan Vantage Tim Murphy Melissa Landsman of Hill & Knowlton strategies and Andrew Thompson former Saskatchewan finance minister now chief of government relations for University of Toronto join us also from Toronto hi everyone nice to see you good to see you Tim I'm gonna start with you so we just had a panel of M he's on including Rob Oliphant who's the Parliament one of the parliamentary secretaries to Foreign Affairs Minister Christopher Elin and he really insists that this was not the direction of the prime minister's office that even though the Prime Minister's office was invoked in this conversation that it was not condoned that that didn't come from them the opposition members that we had on mr. O'Toole and mr. Curran did not bite at that what do you think well you know we're getting we're less than a hundred days away from elections so the temperatures start rising and I saw that panel got a little heated you know it's kind of what you expect in the political gamesmanship running up to an election I would say it's you know it's a bit odd that I kind of you know if you were doing this from the government perspective you know in other words from the Liberal government's perspective and wanting to have a unified voice it's a bit odd to send out an assistant deputy minister to do it to have a conversation I've worked with David when he was in government and and frankly he wouldn't even do what you told him when he was in government and you paid him so I you know it's kind of you know anyone who knows David knows he is an independent thinker that's one of his great strengths so the notion somehow that and and I know the government and and Minister Freeman would know these players intimately she's been intimately involved in the file it just seems like an odd thing for the government to have gone in for the PMO to do this I can see you know the government wanting to say look we're trying to you know please check in before you make public comments because we're at a sensitive point and we all well know that you know China may not have quite the same understanding of the tooing and froing of our political you know operations as they do there and so I could easily see a government saying look just before you say some things we're at a critical point and check in kind of thing I think this is you know that to use the Shakespearean quote it's full of sound and fury but signifying nothing the interesting thing is it kind of picks up on something that we've heard the opposition Andrew talked about before or sorry the government talked about before and that is sort of drawing a concern or a spotlight to what they are calling or characterizing as an over politicization and you heard mr. Oliphant talk about that in the previous panel as well that this idea of one voice is out of concern for the to canoe individuals who are detained in China and the way in which China might perceive you know cleavages in the way Canadians are are acting what do you think of that argument I think it's difficult anytime a government puts forward an argument that says don't question us don't ask about what's up and whatever you do stick to the line that we've developed I think that does not leave for a very good sound basis to move forward with policy and I think that's one of the problems that's happened here is one of the reasons we're seeing former ambassadors and deputies and others freelancing on this issue is because they've not been effectively drawn into the conversation to try and help solve the problem if the government was really wanting to deal with this constructively they would be using their best minds and the best powers available to them to figure out how to fix it instead what we seem to have have now as a fractionalized largely political response being driven by each of the parties is that ultimately helpful probably not is it inevitable hundred days out likely what the interesting part also to me Melissa is that you know and we've got to it a bit in the panel is that David Mulroney and Keyes saying shocked while initially a bit critical of the government's response have not been lately I was saying last night I've had them on the show often and in fact they usually say yeah Christian Freeland said the right thing here Canada is doing the right thing here we really need to rely on the us things like that so there are other people who have made it a bit harder for the government namely John McCallum and and Jean chrétien well there's I mean there is a difference between and we went from on on the panels is saying the Prime Minister's office didn't do this – maybe the Prime Minister's office you know according to – Tim would have liked to check in or direct the the conversation a little bit what I said there's a story he said that he and I'm saying it's right or wrong he basically said that if they were asking to check in because of a because of how serious the sort of Affairs and there's a difference between a government being on the same page which I agree is important in in frankly in all cases on all on all policies when we when we speak about Foreign Affairs we should speak with one Canadian unified voice but there's a difference between silence and critic and and it's becoming a pattern now and the opposition you know the opposition drew that pattern to what we saw earlier and a silencing of Judy Wilson Raybould a potential silencing of mark Normand and and when something becomes a pattern you know you Canadians start to question whether this is a government that said that they were gonna do things differently or frankly not Tim what do you what do you think of that do you think and this is sort of the question we posed off the offset deep the opposition is saying this is indicative of other behavior of this government do you think that will resonate with people that it sort of taints the idea that this government wasn't going to act in that way I'm not saying it's happening or it's not but but just the press you know and I understand the tactics of the Opposition I think the reality is different than the view the opposition is advancing I think you know at the end of the day I think this is an issue where fundamentally what Canadians want is you know the the to detain people brought home and kind of a return to a more normal relationship at least what we'd hope would be a more normal relationship with China they understand it's complicated as difficult China is significantly changed player on the global network and I think they view it as a as a complicated and challenging file and I think they'll understand a government trying to you know feel its way through it at the end of the day look they're gonna be differences of opinion what the best thing for David has been occasionally critical of the government occasionally complimentary this notion of the government trying to kind of you know shut dissent is is something I think the Conservatives used for their base but it's not widely viewed outside that although The Globe and Mail's report certainly doesn't help the Globes on this and it's it's got its it didn't in malice I mean the government didn't deny anything they reported in this is well no it's that it had nothing they've never had those conversations that denied that completely no it didn't no sir the government didn't deny that the ADM that the assistant deputy minister had had those conversations that's all I see what you mean yeah no they just deny that they said I don't know but they certainly denied they told them to do it yes I think what are the other questions so that pops up here that people are going to start to ask is why does government feel like they can in fact do this whether it's on SMC or whether it's on the Admiral Norman affair why do they think that they can in fact go and intervene in these issues or with John McCallum and I think what this comes keeps coming back to is that there's just far too cozy a relationship between some of the political decision makers and some of the corporate ones and we've certainly seen that at SNC Laughlin and we've certainly seen that in the our believer that's what we're seeing in the Admiral Norman affair although we've not had any kind of fully hearing of that it's this coziness that I think is really causing a question and when you get a fracture like we've had now on China where that starts to fall apart I think you started to see you know the the teeth get bared hi I'm Vasu Capello's host of power and politics see more of our show by subscribing to the CBC news channel or click the link for another video thanks for watching

22 thoughts on “Trudeau's office trying to silence ex-diplomats on China, says opposition | Power & Politics

  1. So; where is the 30 something percent positive LPC comments? PPC/CPC 2019 – We are taking the country back from the lying LPC and CBC.

  2. Canadians need to ask themselves if Justin Trudeau is sane. Consider that Justin Trudeau's mother (Margaret Trudeau) said in a presentation back in 2016 (National Post Article of November 14, 2016): “Seventeen years ago I completely lost my mind, I no longer had the ability to reason. I didn’t know why I should put on clothes, why I should brush my hair, why I should brush my teeth and why I should even participate in life. It was because I had pushed myself so far into mental illness. I really couldn’t live. But I did live.” . From a scientific perspective isn't there a possibility that Justin Trudeau has lost his mind? I believe that the Queen of Canada Elizabeth II should be called upon to investigate the sanity of the Prime Minister to ensure the Canada's Constitution and all Canadians it protects are safe.

  3. = a very TOXIC CHARADE sucking people's vital energy }
    The HOuse needs a major PURGE impossible to sustain deceptive denials – lies – corruption issues being the order of the day ~
    How Consciously Aware are they all of the high response-ability – accountability – transparency essential to healthy governing ???
    Zero tolerance for ignorance or stupidity must become the order od the day or we keep on sliding into deeper cesspools of DECAY – …Canadians of Conscience are UNITING to become ONE VOICE for the People that resonate with The LOVE of TRUTH & WISDOM * Higher intelligence will prevail !

  4. Lying Liberal piece of crap. People….wake up and vote this corrupt, lying, deceitful,scandalous, government out in October. PPC MAX BERNIER!!!!

  5. United States ….JUMP….. Canada. HOW HIGH?…..United States……ARREST THE HUAWEI CFO……Canada….How soon ?



  8. If the government was actually working in the interests of the country, that would be fine! BUT THEY AREN'T!

  9. Corrupt Liberal sleezebags.. They get caught red handed interfering with our Justice systems with Jody Wilson Raybold. They start up an inquiry … stack it with Liberals to shut down the inquiry and now we have to listen to them posturing as the morally upright party looking after Canadians. What a bunch of corrupt, arrogant holier -than-thou swamp dwellers we have running this country. Worse than a 3rd world banana republic

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