A gala opportunity to Stand Up To China

May 24, 2019

On May 29th a group composed of the crème-de-la-crème of Canada’s business elite has an opportunity to send a powerful message to Beijing and #StandUpToChina.

Let’s see if they’ll do it, or will they continue with “business as usual” despite the arbitrary and politically motivated Chinese ban on Canadian canola, peas, soybean and pork that is crippling family owned businesses across much of Canada, and especially in the Prairie provinces?

The Canada China Business Council has high-profile representatives of the Who’s Who of Canada’s business community. It is a not-for-profit group with offices in Canada and China working to forge strong business ties between the two countries – a very worthwhile goal. The group’s website boasts it has been “the leading voice of Canada-China businesses for 40 years” and that it provides for its members “the knowledge and connections you need to succeed in China and Canada.”

There is no doubt the CCBC has very powerful business and political connections. Here are its six Executive Board Members and you can click here for a link to their very impressive biographies.

It is no small wonder then, that the CCBC website boasts about the power that its Executive Directors, along with the 28 non-Executive directors, represent:

“The directors’ cumulative corporate experience in China and their personal and business networks among China and Canada’s most senior government and business leaders is unparalleled. They speak with insight and authority on Canada-China business, trade and investment issues and their voices are heard.”

 Good for them. We’re lucky, let’s be clear, to have such an esteemed group working hard to promote strong business ties with China. It’s good we have loud, strong voices that are heard.

But, at a time in Canada, such as today, when it’s clearly NOT business as usual with China, wouldn’t this be the perfect group to stand up for our canola farmers and other Prairie businesses? Wouldn’t this group be the perfect one to send a message to China that it cannot expect to do “business as usual” with us at a time when our businesses are being targeted, hurt and hammered as part of a larger political and diplomatic fight with Canada and the US?

Aren’t these the voices we need to be hearing now? You bet they are. Even the federal government recently has seemed to have hardened somewhat its stance towards China in this conflict. So where are our business leaders?

If this group won’t stand up and deliver this message, who will? Who would China respect and understand more clearly, outside of government, than a group representing the best and brightest business minds in our country whose sole focus is to do business with China? Who better than the CCBC that has the profile and firepower to #StandUpToChina?

Nobody. This is our A-squad. Their attitude towards China in this issue will speak volumes to the Chinese about how strong, or pliant, are our business leaders.

All that’s needed is the perfect opportunity to send that message. And, guess what? There’s one coming up next week. On Wednesday, May 29th, in Halifax, the CCBC is marking the opening of an office in Atlantic Canada at a sold-out gala event that will be attended by China’s Ambassador to Canada as well as Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.

“The Honourable Stephen McNeil, Premier of Nova Scotia, and His Excellency LU Shaye, Ambassador of China to Canada, will be honoured guest speakers at the dinner officially launching the CCBC Atlantic Chapter on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Halifax. The Premier will be returning from a trade mission to China and will be discussing it as part of his remarks. This will be CCBC’s 5th chapter in Canada and 7th overall. The expansion into Atlantic Canada enables CCBC to provide on-the-ground coast-to-coast counsel and support to companies involved in Canada-China business.”

This is a tremendous opportunity for the CCBC and for Premier McNeil to #StandUpToChina and show them that we mean business.

It would appear that there are three likely options available:

  1. Cancel the event altogether – this would be strong, highly visible and significant statement by both the CCBC and Premier McNeil. Canola farmers could see that as a strong show of solidarity.
     
  2. Go ahead with the event, but make it clear in remarks to the Chinese Ambassador that his country’s treatment of Canada’s canola producers is unfair, arbitrary and not the way Canada expects its trading partners to behave. This would probably be even more effective than cancelling the event in terms of getting the message across.
     
  3. Go ahead with the event, say nothing, and hope it all blows over and pretend that being nice to China and leaving the heavy lifting to others is the signal our business leaders should be delivering.

Which option to do you think is best? Option #1, #2 or #3? Let’s let the CCBC and Premier McNeil hear directly from you.

Here are two email addresses that you can use to let the CCBC and Nova Scotia Premier McNeil know what you think should be done:

It takes courage to #StandUpToChina. Let’s see how much courage we’ll see on display by a provincial premier and an elite group of Canadian business people have Wednesday.

Thank you for your support. Rick Peterson,
Founder, Suits and Boots