• Michael Laxer

NDP and Greens back Trumpian Conservative motion on China

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

Progressives should not be supporting a Conservative motion tinged with anticommunism and Cold War style nationalism that could have been penned by Mike Pompeo.


Taking their cue from Donald Trump, Canada's Conservative Party and leader Erin O'Toole have been ramping up the anti-communist, nationalist and bellicose rhetoric when it comes to the People's Republic of China for months.


Presumably it plays to their base as they have been sending out fundraising emails centered around talk of "Canadian values" that never fail to repeatedly mention the apparently nefarious Communist Party of China. Such rhetoric has been growing as China has begun to threaten the economic and technological hegemony of the west as well as the imperialist hold over the economies of developing countries with efforts at international co-operation like the Belt and Road Initiative.


The Conservatives, for example, sent out this email on October 8, 2020:

On November 17 they sent an email that begins with this rousing call:



You would think lines like "Canada’s Conservatives are guided by Canadian values and ethics. Justin Trudeau and his friends have proven that they are not" would be obviously problematic to anyone on the Canadian left.


The McCarthyite tone and talk of "Canadian values" under threat were even directly in a motion that Conservative MP Michael Chong proposed and that was voted on in parliament today, November 18. It read:


That, given that (i) the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, is threatening Canada’s national interest and its values, including Canadians of Chinese origin within Canada’s borders, (ii) it is essential that Canada have a strong and principled foreign policy backed by action in concert with its allies, the House call upon the government to: (a) make a decision on Huawei’s involvement in Canada’s 5G network within 30 days of the adoption of this motion; and (b) develop a robust plan, as Australia has done, to combat China’s growing foreign operations here in Canada and its increasing intimidation of Canadians living in Canada, and table it within 30 days of the adoption of this motion.

This is very much in-line with the worst reactionary western rhetoric that has been surfacing in the United States and Europe and that has flowed out of the Trump administration. Many of its themes could literally be lifted from a Mike Pompeo speech and it reeks of Cold War style vilification and simplification.


Yet the Conservative motion passed in our minority parliament and it did so due to the support of the Bloc Québécois, NDP and Greens. It had the support of Jagmeet Singh, Elizabeth May, Charlie Angus and others. Not a single New Democrat or Green voted against it. It was supported as well by 5 Liberals while opposed by 145 others.


Whatever concerns, legitimate or otherwise, that progressives may have about the government of China this is pretty shocking. The motion panders directly to those who dangerously seek a new Cold War and has overt "red scare" and dog-whistle tones to it.


No progressive should be supporting a motion that could have been penned by the US Secretary of State and that advances the foreign policy talking points of the Conservative Party.


Those supporting the motion included alleged foreign policy progressives like NDP MPs Alexandre Boulerice and Matthew Green and Green MP Paul Manly.


All three were mentioned in a November 16 Canadian Dimension piece New group of progressive MPs are challenging Canada’s foreign policy myths where they were praised for having "shown the courage to call out Canada’s pro-Washington and corporate positions."


Apparently not when it comes to China.

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