LAUTENS: Here’s one winner in the China-Canada dispute

Jonathan Manthorpe has let (hot) air out of Official Canada’s preposterously inflated delusions about its relations with China. It is a good service that he has done.

 In a heady gift of the authorial gods, the detention in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of China’s huge Huawei Technologies, coincided with release of Manthorpe’s Claws of the Panda – which has seized more reviews and international discussion than any Canadian political tome for years.

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 Manthorpe, long a Vancouver Sun star of deep international experience, and a former colleague and North Shore resident, savours the irony.

 He writes me: “I owe Huawei and Meng Wanzhou an enormous debt of gratitude for making the elements in Claws of the Panda front-page news just as the book hit the stores.”

The book’s claws should rip away the naïve self-congratulatory cant about “post-modern” Canada’s global heft, currently spread by our footling prime minister, though traceable back to his 1960s swinger father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

The language and analysis are highly polished, but Manthorpe’s take on China is as subtle as a punch in the gut. Great. It’s a much-needed unfashionable corrective to the “normalization” of a China restoring its ancient self-described status as the world’s Middle Kingdom.

The Communist Party of China is the heir of the emperors, with no awkward democracy in between. And as Manthorpe writes in a recent excellent article in the Sun, there is “a very successful campaign mounted by the CPC for over 70 years to acquire influence over Canada’s elites.”

Canada’s liberal-left ideology suppresses the obvious, that the two countries are worlds apart. Compare Beijing’s “angry and brutal responses” to our detention of Meng – living on bail in house arrest in a gracious Dunbar area house while her case works its way through the courts – with the reported detention conditions in China of political hostages Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

Discredit where due: Many Canadian businesses, dollar signs in eyes, a vast potential market perceived, rushed in when the elder Trudeau recognized the CPC regime of murderous dictator Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong) in 1970 – Pierre loved repressive leftists, Fidel Castro another example. Many companies were stung. They found their trade knowledge and technology were stolen – as state-sponsored Chinese mega-companies and spies also steal in Canada.

Trade advantage? China sells Canada $80 billion in goods. Canada sells China $20 billion.

Manthorpe – whose stunning qualifications would half fill this space – and wife Petrina “deserted the North Shore in 2013 for Victoria, which is the new happening place in B.C. …  This is hipster central, bursting with refugees from the unlivability of Vancouver.

“My publisher is delighted and I am a bit bemused by the non-stop requests for interviews,” Manthorpe writes. “I have no doubt that I will wake up one morning to find that the dogs have barked and the caravan moved on, but for the moment it is all an unexpected delight.”

• • •

 Weeks have passed. Angry words exchanged. I still don’t get it. What the hell would TransLink’s B-Line do to unsnarl traffic in West Vancouver and the rest of the North Shore?

What’s needed is not an east-west, Phibbs Exchange-to-Dundarave line, but more buses through the crucial pressure points of the two bridges connecting Metro Vancouver. The “sorry, full” sign on buses on Georgia Street is intolerable.

WV also needs more mini-buses on steep north-south streets, where a three-block walk with groceries is like entering Grandma in the Olympics. And late-night taxi service from downtown – especially for women, as Agent Gv64mKw detailed to me – can be a threat to health.

Mayor Mary-Ann Booth’s late cancellation of a meeting requested by B-Line enemy Nigel Malkin set off a string of heated emails. At least Malkin got pencilled in. Agent 55Wcy6 claims that a high-profile gent asked to meet Booth early in December. Was told no opening till February. (Who would you guess jammed that lineup?)

• • •

What’s the holdup? At this writing West Van town hall still hasn’t released the terms of its settlement with CN Rail over public access to the iconic Seawalk – a dispute that’s gone on almost as long as Uncle Tom’s Cabin performances.

In a screed published 23 months ago, I potted the history of this saga from 1967, when B.C. Rail, then and now the underlying owner of the land and thus landlord of CN Rail, leased three parcels of its property to West Van for $25 each. Yes, grand total, 75 bucks.

There it stood until 1993, when CN Rail sought $300 per lease – still pin money. Town hall’s own appallingly sketchy records show growing demands, seething hostility and what looked like decades of municipal indifference or flat arrogance in not responding. When CN Rail sued West Van for $3.7 million in February 2017, it hadn’t been paid a nickel for 23 years.

Then-mayor Michael Smith – where were other mayors, councillors and top bureaucrats for those two decades-plus? – stepped in and pressed for a negotiated deal, which was announced last Sept. 7, “happening very quickly” after Smith’s personal involvement with senior CN Rail executives, said a glowing town hall announcement. An apparent departing triumph, after the mayor’s seven controversy-marked years. “A very favourable deal for West Van residents,” Smith modestly allowed.

Five months have passed. No news. Repeat: What’s the holdup?

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