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Chinese consulate in Vancouver criticizes media reports on volunteer recruitment, training – The Globe and Mail

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Chinese consulate in Vancouver, B.C., posted its response to the news reports on its website on Sunday.

David Ryder/Reuters

The Chinese consulate in Vancouver has harshly criticized media outlets that published stories about the recruitment and training of volunteers in Canada to ensure the “safety” of fellow Chinese citizens, saying the reporting was malicious and slanderous.

Last week, some Canadian news organizations, including The Globe and Mail, reported that the Chinese consulate in Vancouver was training volunteers to “protect the lives and property of the people and safeguarding the safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens overseas,” according to a recent article posted to the consulate’s website.

The Dec. 11 article prompted concern among pro-Hong Kong activists and China experts who questioned the work Beijing wants the volunteers to do.

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The consulate posted its response to the news reports on its website on Sunday.

The consulate said that “a few irresponsible media outlets” unfairly characterized the volunteer recruitment program. It added that any suggestion that the effort was meant to spread Chinese ideology and to interfere with local affairs was “pure fabrication and malicious slander.”

Gloria Fung, president of Canada-Hong Kong Link, said the statement from the consulate is “defensive” and doesn’t address her concerns about the program, including whether these volunteers were asked to perform “other tasks” on Canadian soil.

They might be asked “to closely monitor Chinese community members in Canada,” she said.

The consulate states on its website that with the increasing number of Chinese nationals who are touring, studying and working in Canada, the number of consular cases, including accidents and sudden illness, has been increasing significantly.

It notes that helping one another is the “Chinese nation’s fine tradition.”

“It’s legal and reasonable to recruit local ex-pats to be volunteers who assist the consulate, in accordance with laws and regulations, to offer timely and effective help for Chinese citizens overseas,” the consulate says.

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It adds that it hopes the media can be “objective and fair” and do more things that help promote friendship, mutual trust and understanding between people from China and Canada.

Mabel Tung, chair of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, said she doesn’t think the Canadian media had been overreacting to the issue.

“The problem here is they are recruiting Canadians to take care of their own citizens. I think there is something wrong with it,” Ms. Tung said.

A number of China experts said it is not uncommon for countries to ask their ex-pats for help, but some questioned what specific consular functions these volunteers are providing.

The program has been undertaken by consulates in Calgary and Toronto, as well as in missions around the world. The Chinese consulate in Osaka says in a recent post that it hopes volunteers in the Japanese city can play a role as the consulate’s “eyes, ears, mouths and hands.”

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KINSELLA: International media unimpressed by Canada's vaccine rollout and they're right – Toronto Sun

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Other countries? Well, in Israel – a nation perpetually under attack, with a dysfunctional system of government, and no coronavirus vaccine-manufacturing capacity of its own, like Canada – more Israelis get vaccinated in a single day than Canada vaccinated in all of December.

In the United States – a divided nation run by an impeached lunatic, with an actual insurrection still underway – nearly ten million Americans have been vaccinated with one or more doses. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to “move Heaven and Earth,” meanwhile, to get 100 million of his fellow citizens vaccinated in the first 100 days of his administration.

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Justin Trudeau’s Canada? Not so good.

Now, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc is a whip-smart guy, educated at Trinity College and Harvard. He was sent out, a few days ago, to polish the turd that is Justin Trudeau’s record on vaccines.

Canada is “on track” with its coronavirus vaccine rollout, Leblanc said to various media, with a straight face. And, in response to criticisms arising from the fact that provinces have run out of doses – because they actually have – well, Leblanc said this: it’s “a bit simplistic.”

And that much is true, although not in the way that Leblanc intended. It is simple: you either have vaccines, or you don’t.

Many provinces didn’t, or not nearly enough. The University Health Network – which has thousands of beds, and patients from across Canada – effectively ran out of vaccines a few days ago. They were forced to reschedule vaccination appointments.

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KINSELLA: International media unimpressed by Canada's vaccine rollout and they're right – Toronto Sun

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Article content continued

Other countries? Well, in Israel – a nation perpetually under attack, with a dysfunctional system of government, and no coronavirus vaccine-manufacturing capacity of its own, like Canada – more Israelis get vaccinated in a single day than Canada vaccinated in all of December.

In the United States – a divided nation run by an impeached lunatic, with an actual insurrection still underway – nearly ten million Americans have been vaccinated with one or more doses. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to “move Heaven and Earth,” meanwhile, to get 100 million of his fellow citizens vaccinated in the first 100 days of his administration.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

[embedded content]

Justin Trudeau’s Canada? Not so good.

Now, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc is a whip-smart guy, educated at Trinity College and Harvard. He was sent out, a few days ago, to polish the turd that is Justin Trudeau’s record on vaccines.

Canada is “on track” with its coronavirus vaccine rollout, Leblanc said to various media, with a straight face. And, in response to criticisms arising from the fact that provinces have run out of doses – because they actually have – well, Leblanc said this: it’s “a bit simplistic.”

And that much is true, although not in the way that Leblanc intended. It is simple: you either have vaccines, or you don’t.

Many provinces didn’t, or not nearly enough. The University Health Network – which has thousands of beds, and patients from across Canada – effectively ran out of vaccines a few days ago. They were forced to reschedule vaccination appointments.

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Media coverage of COVID is failing Albertans, and it's not the media’s fault. – Alberta Daily Herald Tribune

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This has to stop.

Either Dr. Hinshaw or her two expert, and well-compensated, deputies need to make themselves available on a regular basis to answer technical questions — from reporters whose microphones don’t get muted. They’ll need to explain what the statistics they release really mean and take questions about the particulars of outbreaks and the evolving science of the pandemic.

Yes, some of the questions and answers will be uncomfortable, and uncertainty will be highlighted. But Albertans will be better served by having these questions answered with uncertainty than they are when the questions aren’t even asked.

Of course, the semi-regular official briefings with top decision-makers should continue when there are major policy announcements. But those would also benefit from being less stilted. Also, Alberta is a wealthy province; we can afford a socially distanced second podium on the stage so that we don’t have to waste precious question time on the theatre of hand sanitizing.

COVID is contagious and it has required us to change the nature of news gathering, but the news-gathering function is more important now than ever.

Albertans are being asked to give up so much. Our compliance should happen in exchange for our government’s willingness to answer all our questions.

Vitor Marciano was formerly press secretary to two leaders of the Opposition.

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