Justin Trudeau and his Liberal party are “slightly naive” on China, or even “seduced” by a country that they see as the “new Rome.” Those are the words of Ward Elcock, the man that lead CSIS from 1994 until 2004 and was granted senior appointments by the Harper government on security files after spending a decade serving the Chretien Liberals.
Why does that matter?
Because Ward Elcock is warning that Trudeau’s Liberals may have a blind spot when it comes to China and their business forays into Canada.
Elcock was speaking at an event hosted by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute that included a discussion on an attempt by a company backed by the Chinese government to buy up one of Canada’s largest construction firms, Aecon. If the name doesn’t ring any bells, think back to the last time you drove by a major infrastructure project.
Some of the major projects built by Aecon or its predecessors include the CN Tower, Highway 407 in Ontario, the Vancouver Sky Train and the St. Lawrence Seaway. They are involved in building major infrastructure, in mining and in energy projects like the oilsands.
Now a Chinese company, backed by the government in Beijing, wants to buy them.
It’s hard to see Justin Trudeau turning down this purchase, despite obvious national security risks given his track record. And yet we have the former head of CSIS, former deputy minister of national defence and former chief of integrated security for the 2010 Winter Olympics waving a big red flag. The Globe and Mail reported on Elcock’s speech to MLI, including this nugget.
“It seems to me very difficult for the government to approve the Aecon acquisition without incurring significant risks to national security going forward,” he said in a speech to the Macdonald-Laurier Institute on Wednesday. “It would certainly not be my recommendation to allow it to proceed.”
So there you have it, a man that has helped run national defence and CSIS under Liberal governments, who was appointed to oversee security at the Olympics by a Conservative government, is saying don’t let this deal go through.
Elcock points out that allowing Aecon to continue to build major Canadian infrastructure projects under Chinese ownership would likely annoy our American partners, remember, we have a high degree of integrated infrastructure with the US.
“It is hard not to conclude that a range of infrastructure projects from dams to power plants, transmission grids to communications infrastructure would raise similar national-security concerns as well as some possibility of an adverse American reaction given the interconnected nature of our infrastructure,” Mr. Elcock said.
And so the country waits to see what Trudeau will do.
My theory is that he will approve the deal. Trudeau, like so many politicians that I have covered from Montreal has a bizarre fascination with China. Of course his fascination may come from his father who traveled there before him and his brother.
Trudeau has already approved the Chinese takeover of a major nursing home chain, a military supplier and a high-tech firm that could leave us vulnerable in the future.
The obsession and fascination that Trudeau has with China goes far beyond the “basic dictatorship” that he admires and it seems he will give China whatever they want, if he can get a potential trade deal with them.
It’s a bad trade off if you ask me.
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