Dominic Barton, and the Damage Done. Part 2.
More from the shadows cast by the Liberals' very own Mephistopheles in the glaring light of a scandal involving Beijing's operatives in Canada. With unreported malfeasance from Moscow to Istanbul.
For those just tuning in, put your feet up and read Part 1, posted Monday, and you should probably read my Postmedia column from last week as well. Or not. Most of this newsletter will be free, like last time, but I’m saving some dark and unreported matter for paying customers beyond the paywall, way down below. A lot of work went into this.
My column in print Thursday would be handy background too because it’ll tell you a lot about the house that Barton built: What's it going to take for the Liberals to crack down on Chinese subterfuge? Intelligence officials have shouted into the void for years about Beijing's interference in federal elections and public policy.
The point of Part 1 was that a great unraveling has begun. Seven years of Justin Trudeau’s hubris, seven years of intricately orchestrated “elite capture” by the China-Canada trade complex, and it’s all falling to pieces. And there’s nothing substantively new that I can see in the latest hints about what Trudeau’s “new” China policy will purportedly contain.
I’m trying, honestly I am, but I can find no evidence to support what the Trudeau government is saying, or implying, about all of a sudden cracking down on Beijing’s sinister influences in this country. You can’t go out of your way to invite and encourage those influences at the highest levels, for years, and then expect to get away with pretending you’ve been against them all along and by gosh you’ve had quite enough. Sorry, but I’m not buying it.
Do forgive me as well for returning to the observation famously uttered by the long-imprisoned Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci: The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.
In the interregnum lately forced upon the world by the Beijing-Moscow-Tehran axis, Trudeau can’t hide these morbid symptoms in “sunny ways” ententes with torture states anymore. Or in matinee-idol media availabilities, Ladies Night photoshoots, solemn knee-takings for TikTok, fancy-socks displays at Davos, or in making history as the first head of government to frolic among drag queens on Ru Paul’s Drag Race television franchise, an upcoming event the Xtra crew quite reasonably expects to turn out quite “cringe.”
Everything is coming apart at the seams, and among the most cunning vandals behind liberal democracy’s ongoing worldwide implosion was the Canadian who was also the chief architect behind the Trudeau government’s economic, foreign policy and international-trade blueprints. Bao Damin, Dominic Barton, was the Asia chairman and then senior partner in Màikěnxī, McKinsey and Company, the scandal-wracked global consultancy that so effectively facilitated the 21st century’s bloody ascendancy of the United Nations’ police-state bloc. A primer from the New York Times: How McKinsey Has Helped Raise the Stature of Authoritarian Governments.
Not coincidentally, Barton was also Canada’s ambassador to China from 2019 to 2021. While Barton was at the pinnacle of power in the firm, McKinsey doubled its global earnings to more than $10 billion. And then, in broad daylight, Barton set the Canadian government on a path of collusion with Xi Jinping’s state-owned enterprises and turbocharged the Trudeau Liberals’ function as the political wing of the Canada-China Business Council.
Along the way, Canada was reduced to the status of untrustworthy outlier in the Five-Eyes intelligence sharing partnership with the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. And Ottawa was reduced to Xi Jinping’s most uniquely helpful capital among the G7 countries.
I don’t mean to make Barton the scapegoat for all the big-idea imbecilities attributable to Team Trudeau. I suppose we all share some of the blame. But how to undo all that, and whether it’s being undone at all, even now, are questions I’ll leave to Real Story subscribers.
Recoil as one will from Donald Trump’s collusions with Vladimir Putin, purported or confirmed. All that noise was nothing compared with the way the Trudeau government, under Barton’s guidance and counsel, turned Canada into a bustling precinct of Xi Jinping’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office and its United Front Work Department. Hardly anybody bothered to notice. It was just too outside the “narrative.”
Here’s another question for you: Do you think Trump could have gotten away with it if he’d hired the head of the Russian American Business Council to run his 2017 transition team, and then assigned the guy the job of setting up his presidential cabinet, and then rewarded him the top job in the U.S. Senate? Correct answer: No, of course not, not even in Alabama.
But that’s exactly what Trudeau did with Peter Harder, president of the Canada-China Business Council, following the 2015 federal election. Trudeau had Harder oversee the Liberal Party’s move into the Prime Minister’s Office, and then appointed him the government’s leading man in the Senate.
Dominic Barton was then tapped to lead Trudeau’s blue-chip Advisory Council on Economic Growth, and Barton’s McKinsey and Company was invited to run the whole thing. McKinsey handled the meeting schedules, wrote all the research papers - the whole operation was a McKinsey job. The “post-national” Canada that Trudeau has been engineering takes its form and shape from designs laid down by Dominic Barton, and by McKinsey and Company.
Maybe you can get away with this sort of thing in Canada so long as your hairdo is nicer than Trump’s and you don’t say mean things about the news media; I really couldn’t say. But as you read this newsletter I want you to keep this damage-control headline from Wednesday in mind: Ottawa vows to tackle foreign interference from China in Canadian politics.
That’s how Team Trudeau responded to the scandal, blown open this week by our pal Sam Cooper over at Global News, who revealed that official intelligence briefings indicate that Beijing had funded 11 candidates in the 2019 election and placed operatives on campaign staff, and that Beijing has also situated its hall-boys in the offices of several MPs.
Along with former prime minister Jean Chrétien - the grandpappy of China’s compradors in Canada - Peter Harder is a senior skid-greaser with Dentons LLP, the Canadian face of the global Chinese corporate-law conglomerate otherwise known as Beijing Dacheng. Chairman of the board: Peng Xuefeng, a senior member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Harder is also a former president of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, which was enriched a few months after Trudeau’s 2015 election with a $200,000 donation from a well-to-do Chinese Communist Party insider.
Harder is not just some lowly Beijing enthusiast on a federal Liberal candidate’s campaign staff. Along with Yuen Pau Woo, Harder is the main obstruction in the Senate standing in the way of Senator Leo Housakos’ Bill 237, An Act to establish the Foreign Influence Registry and to amend the Criminal Code. Because of course he his.
Woo has strongly advised against drawing attention to Beijing’s influence operations in Canada on the grounds that to do so would contribute to “racial profiling and stigmatization.” Woo’s maiden speech in the Senate: Canada should keep its mouth shut about Beijing’s annexation of the South China Sea. It was Woo who led the Senate’s defeat of the motion that would have mirrored the House of Commons resolution declaring Beijing’s persecution of the Muslims of Xinjiang a genocide. For this service, Woo and his Senate colleagues were praised by Beijing as “people of vision.”
If you read my column this week you’ll learn what Adam Fisher, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service director-general for Intelligence Assessments, was telling a House of Commons standing committee only a few days ago: Canada’s intelligence agencies don’t even have “the tools to understand the threat” Canada faces from Beijing’s influence operations.
The reason for that: much of this country’s foreign-policy establishment doesn’t want Canada’s intelligence agencies poking their noses in the China file, and they’ve said so, as noted in this magisterial analysis of the triumph of Beijing’s influence operations in Canada by the eminent China expert Charles Burton.
Worried about the public backlash to Ottawa’s increasingly supine posture in relations with Beijing, in October 2018 Woo brought together a multipartisan group of Beijing-friendly lawmakers - Liberal MP (now fisheries minister) Joyce Murray, NDP MP Don Davies and Conservative Senator Victor Oh. The consensus: Canada should not follow American or Australian vigilance with a Canadian foreign agents registry, and no further resources should be allocated to CSIS, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Communications Security Establishment in the matter of Beijing’s influences in Canada.
Why? Because it would upset Beijing, that’s why. From Woo’s summation: “The bigger issue that all parties need to keep in perspective is Canada’s relationship with China, and how to build stronger political, economic and cultural ties.”
This goes a long way to explain Trudeau’s response to that blockbuster story this week about Beijing’s interference in the 2019 election: Everything is under control. “There are already significant laws and measures that our intelligence and security officials have, to go against foreign actors operating on Canadian soil.” Except our intelligence and security officials say the opposite, and they were saying so just last week, publicly, on the record, in the House of Commons.
My goodness. Who to believe?
Bill 237, Senator Housakos’ foreign-influence registry bill, is the Senate version of former Steveston—Richmond East MP Kenny Chiu’s proposed foreign agents registry law. For his trouble in trying to get the law passed, Chiu was targeted by an elaborate disinformation network during last year’s federal election campaign. Think about that for a second. This was a Beijing-directed influence operation aimed at scuttling an effort to defend Canada against Beijing-directed influence operations. Chiu ended up losing to the Liberal candidate.
I got into that and Beijing’s election-interference operations in Canada while they were underway, in September last year, here: China's interference in Canada's election doesn't seem to faze the Liberals. And after the election was done with, last December, here: China's disinformation campaign against Canada's election is undeniable. This is what the Atlantic Council’s Forensic Research Lab found: “China-linked actors took an active role in seeking to influence the September 20, 2021 parliamentary election in Canada, displaying signs of a coordinated campaign to influence behaviour among the Chinese diaspora voting in the election.”
It wasn’t until a single brave decision by a Citizenship and Immigration officer and a January decision by a federal court judge that Canadian law was brought into at least a semblance of conformity with what CSIS had been shouting into the void for years: Beijing’s influence-peddling, strong-arm and espionage agencies are here in Canada, carrying out exactly what Judge Vanessa Rocester described: surveillance, subversion, and surreptitious intelligence-gathering operations directly harmful to this country’s national interests.
Which brings us back to this week’s blockbuster by our pal Sam Cooper over at Global News. It was also last January that CSIS went to Trudeau and several of his ministers with evidence that Beijing’s Toronto consulate had shelled out roughly $250,000 and arranged for operatives to help out with 11 federal candidates’ campaigns in the 2019 election, and that Beijing has a staff pipeline into the offices of several MPs.
Trudeau had been sitting on that explosive information for ten months. It blew up this week. So let’s read that headline from yesterday again: Ottawa vows to tackle foreign interference from China in Canadian politics. Our feckless foreign affairs minister, Mélanie Joly: “We will do more to tackle foreign interference.”
Wherever will the poor dear begin?
At least she won’t have to fire John McCallum, the Chrétien-era cabinet minister who so routinely disgraced himself as Canada’s ambassador to China that Chrystia Freeland finally had to put her foot down when he took Beijing’s side in the Meng Wanzhou affair. Either he goes, she said, or I go.
McCallum was made to go, and after he went he openly admitted to the South China Morning Post that he’d been advising Chinese officials to conduct themselves in such a way as to influence the outcome of the 2019 federal election to the Liberals’ advantage. Openly.
This was not some clandestine communication, revealed in a leaked email or discovered in a CSIS brief obtained by Global News or Postmedia or the Globe and Mail. It was in an on-the-record interview with the South China Morning Post. After all, why hide it when you can get away with it, when your affections for a hostile foreign power had always been rewarded? What, you accepted $73,000 in free trips to China? Very good then, John, now you can be our ambassador to China.
By 2019, Canada’s Upper House had already been rendered captive to Beijing’s interests. I took a bit of a dive into that for Macleans three years ago, giving full marks to the brave Senator Thanh Hai Ngo for trying to make some noise about it.
I don’t quite know how Joly could “tackle foreign interference” in the Senate, constitutionally, even if she wanted to. Joly would also have to “tackle” quite a few of her cabinet colleagues and her caucus colleagues and a vast cohort of mandarins in the Prime Minister’s Office on down, including diplocrats in her own Global Affairs shop.
Despite appearances, Barton hasn’t gone anywhere, either, and neither have quite a few deftly-placed McKinsey alumni in and around Ottawa. And this is where things go dark, unless you’ve taken out a paid subscription. Sorry.