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Taiwan pitches Ottawa on closer relationship as dispute with China drags on

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Taiwan’s chief representative in Ottawa is pitching Canada on closer ties with the self-ruled island as a costly and corrosive dispute between China and the Canadian government drags on.

Relations between China and Canada have deteriorated over the past eight months since December, 2018, when Canadian officials arrested a senior Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, on a U.S. extradition request.

Representative Winston Wen-yi Chen of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada said the Taiwanese people are no stranger to “bullying” from Beijing and can not only offer advice on how to deal with Beijing but also a reliable and democratic trading partner that follows the rule of law.

“I want to expand and deepen the relationship with Canada,” he said.

“We are both democratic countries. We do things according to international norms and regulations.”

In the days after Ms. Meng’s arrest, Beijing seized two Canadians whom it’s since accused of espionage. Soybean and canola seed producers have seen purchases by Chinese buyers slow to a trickle and China has also formally barred imports of Canadian pork and beef.

“We have been through the experience that you are currently suffering,” Mr. Chen said. His office functions as the de-facto embassy for Taiwan in Ottawa.

“That is something we are very familiar with. They can stop imports. Stop tourists.”

He said that just last week Beijing suspended a program allowing individual tourists from 47 mainland Chinese cities to visit Taiwan, a measure that will hurt the self-ruled island.

“Around two-and-a-half million come to Taiwan from the mainland each year,” Mr. Chen said.

“Now they use government power and authority to stop them,” he said. “It’s a way to pressure our government.”

Mr. Chen said Canada should consider doing more business with Taiwan. The country is Canada’s 12th-largest trading partner and fifth-largest in Asia, behind larger economies such as China and Japan. Some 200,000 people of Taiwanese descent live in Canada and 60,000 Canadian citizens live in Taiwan.

“We might not have the big trade like China … and we might not be able to buy as much from Canada, but we always honour any deal with our Canadian friends.”

Taiwan is a self-ruled region with its own military and foreign policy that the Communist Party-run People’s Republic of China claims as part of its territory. Unlike China, Taiwan is a democracy and is where defeated Nationalist forces retreated in 1949 after they lost the Chinese civil war on the mainland to Mao Zedong’s Communists.

Beijing has repeatedly conducted military drills simulating the invasion of Taiwan, and in recent years has sent bombers on “encirclement” flights. Beijing has never ruled out the use of force to bring Taipei under its command.

Under Canada’s One China policy, Canada does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state and does not maintain official government-to-government relations with Taipei.

In recent decades, there have been no high-level visits by Canadian government.

It’s been more than 20 years since a Canadian cabinet minister visited Taiwan. The last one, according to Mr. Chen, was John Manley when he was industry minister in 1998.

The Canadian government, asked why no cabinet minister has visited Taiwan in two decades, and when it might send one, did not directly answer the question.

“Canada’s interests are represented in Taiwan by our office in Taipei, which has been open since 1986,” said Stefano Maron, a spokesman for the Department of Global Affairs. “The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei facilitates co-operation on everything from trade and foreign direct investment to public-policy issues.”

One way that Taiwan and Canada might deepen trade ties is through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral free-trade agreement between Canada and 10 other Asia-Pacific countries.

Taiwan’s envoy said he’s encouraged by a recent effort by the Canadian government to consult Canadians on what they think of admitting other jurisdictions to the TPP, including Taiwan.

Mr. Chen said it’s time for Canada to interpret its One China policy more flexibly. He noted that in 1970 when Ottawa recognized the Communist-ruled People’s Republic of China and broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it didn’t embrace Beijing’s view of Taiwan.

In the 1970 communiqué, it said “the Chinese government reaffirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China. The Canadian government takes note of this position of the Chinese government.”

Mr. Chen points out Canada never recognized or accepted Beijing’s view of Taiwan, but merely “took note” of it. “It’s the lowest level of response. You can say whatever you like and I take note of it. I didn’t recognize it.”

He said China wants to take over Taiwan because its vibrant democracy is a threat to the Communist Party-controlled authoritarian state.

“They have a strong desire to do so because we always demonstrate that a Mandarin-speaking society can continue to live democratically with an independent judiciary” he said.

“That means that in the Chinese [mainland] territory they could do the same thing. … That is a big threat to them.”

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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