None dare call it treason: Jeffrey Delisle’s secret sale and Stephen Harper’s secret treaty

Harper in China: Not likely to be an opera any time soon. Below: Sir Alec Guinness as George Smiley, where is our Smiley now that we really need him? Sub-Lieut. Jeffrey Delisle, as himself; Sir John Harington.

Is it only me that sees a certain irony in the fact a naval officer who sold military secrets to the now-thoroughly-capitalist Russians for a few thousand dollars has been tossed in the slammer as a traitor by a government that would sign away our country’s sovereignty in an all-but secret treaty with the still-Communist Chinese?

It certainly shows the difference a big impact on the right people’s bottom lines can have on how the world sees you and your deeds!

As Sir John Harington, the first Queen Elizabeth’s “saucy godson” and the inventor of the flush toilet, so famously observed: “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

Now, I’m not suggesting that Navy Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle, who has now pleaded guilty in what was pretty obviously some kind of bargain to preserve his Canadian employer’s privacy, ought to have been permitted to sell our military secrets to the Russians. This assumes, of course, that we have any meaningful secrets from them – which given the successful history of their organs of state security, we may not.

We’ll likely never know the details of the Delisle case because it’s said to be a matter of national security too sensitive for the citizens of the nation in question to know about. Having a suspicious nature, however, I can’t shake the feeling that Sub-Lieut. Delisle was offered a deal not to protect our military secrets or even our access to our powerful neighbour’s secrets so much as to save the Navy from the public humiliation of revealing the ease with which said secrets were purloined away on a flash drive.

Sub-Lieut. Delisle certainly didn’t make much money for the high risks he took, if media reports are to be believed – which, of course, in matters of state security, they may not necessarily be. According to the CBC, he got a $50,000 down payment and about $3,000 a month from the Russians for his troubles.

Meanwhile, an awful lot more money is likely to be made by folks who are not a low-ranking naval officers if the Harper government gets away with its plan to sign a treaty that all but hands over our national sovereignty and control over our natural resources to the Communist Chinese.

This scheme that appears to be designed to grease the skids of deals like the plan by state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. to take over of Calgary-based Nexen Inc. for $15 billion, something Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s friends and patrons in the oil and pipeline industries would very much like to see happen, whether or not most Canadians think it’s a good idea. (They don’t.)

Of course, when you’re talking about $15-billion, instead of $50,000, a lot of well-connected backs can get scratched, and so a lot of people are willing to stand up and tell you this idea’s just the ticket, even if a few environmentalists, social democrats, greens, Canadian nationalists and other marginalized voices are screaming from the peanut gallery that this may not exactly be in the country’s interests.

“By Nov. 1 three of China’s national oil companies will have more power to shape Canada’s energy markets as well as challenge the politics of this country than Canadians themselves,” Calgary writer Andrew Nikoforuk wrote in an excellent piece in The Tyee. “And you can thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper for this economic treason.”

“Given that oil consumption in the United States is steadily dropping and that the incompetent petro-state of Alberta has flooded the market with bitumen due to bad planning, low royalties and sheer stupidity, Harper is frantically trying to save his Tory cohorts and their special petroleum interests by peddling bitumen to Asian refiners at any cost,” Mr. Nikoforuk writes. “He’s prepared to sell out Canada in the process.”

How so? Well, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act, which as Mr. Nikoforuk notes was tabled in another country (Russia, ironically) without so much as a press release undermines Canadian democracy and gives corrupt state-owned Chinese companies more rights than Canadian citizens.

Or, as international arbitration expert Gus Van Harten wrote in his now-famous letter to Prime Minister Harper, reprinted by the Tyee: “This treaty will have major implications for core elements of Canadian legislative and judicial sovereignty. It will tie the hands of all levels and branches of government in Canada in relation to any Chinese-owned asset in ways that many governments in Canada, I suspect, have not considered closely. The implications will be legally irreversible by any Canadian court or other decision-maker for at least 31 years.”

So, for example, if a British Columbia premier were to try to block or even delay Mr. Harper’s beloved bitumen hose to the West Coast, the Chinese could sue in a kangaroo court designed to guarantee a favourable result for the petro-state and the steamroller treatment for any Canadian foolish enough to try to stand in the way.

Certainly, anyone who opposes these deals cannot expect to be treated kindly by Mr. Harper’s acolytes. Consider the snarling aside about the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for daring to warn the nation about the security implications of the deal in a rambling attack on the Nexen sale’s foes by Barry Cooper, one of several neoconservative talking heads associated with the University of Calgary. “CSIS, Canada’s counter-spy bureaucracy, trying to prove it is still useful, muttered imprecations about Chinese spies.” (Emphasis added.)

Presumably Prof. Cooper thinks CSIS would do better chasing small fry like Sub-Lieut. Delisle. Obviously a moral relativist, he dismisses Canadians who oppose the deal on the basis of China’s human rights record on the bizarre grounds that “the Chinese have their own values.”

Getting back to the problem with Mr. Harper’s secret treaty for Canadians, Nikoforuk concludes: “The deal does not require provincial consent. It comes without any risk-benefit analysis. And it can be ratified into law without parliamentary debate. The more Harper wants to do business with China, the more he acts like another tank in Tiananmen Square. Barring a revolt within Harper’s own party, the trade deal automatically becomes law on Nov. 1.”

So ask yourself, short term or long term, which deal is likely to do more harm to Canada’s interests?

Sub-Lieut. Delisle’s betrayal of the details of a few submarine-hunting secrets or whatever it was he handed over, the broad strokes if not the details of which the Russian military certainly knew anyway, or the massive surrender of Canadian sovereignty and democracy being railroaded through by the Harper neoconservatives?

Perhaps we should start calling Mr. Harper’s party neocommunists, since they operate so much like the still-nominally Communist Chinese government they are so anxious to do business with.

I can’t say I’m really surprised that the Conservative Party seems willing to sell out the country, but I am astonished by their choice of buyer. Have they received assurances from our next-door neighbor’s petro-bosses that the deal is OK as long as the right nests are feathered? It’s hard to imagine that the hard-nosed strategists in Washington D.C. wouldn’t have something uncomplimentary to say about this.

One lesson is clear from all this, at any rate. If you’re pondering selling someone’s national security assets to pay off your Visa bill and you want to get away with it, don’t just think big, think huge!

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

6 Comments on "None dare call it treason: Jeffrey Delisle’s secret sale and Stephen Harper’s secret treaty"

  1. ABobserver says:

    You may not be aware of it, but foreign trade and other treaties is the exclusive purview of the government, whether it is a majority or a minority, and is not subject to parliamentary review.

    One can argue all sides of the issue whether that is the way it should be or not, but that is the reality.

    • Indeed. And that, of course, is why there was never any discussion or elections before we passed the Canada-US Free Trade deal, and why Brian Mulroney never paid a political price for pretending to oppose such a deal and then pursuing it anyway.
      Oh, wait, that’s not how it happened.
      I guess that whatever the details of who gets to pass what, the Canadian public used to wrongheadedly imagine that in a democracy the public policy was in some way their business.

  2. Filostrato says:

    There was a headline somewhere (?) this morning that said that the Harperites have more or less given up on ever tackling the debt that they have contributed so greatly to. The latest estimate is 2042. Highway robbery. It seems that the Harperites have perfected governance on the Private Equity model – strip assets, throw people out of work (don’t get me started on the Arrow-y Action Plan adverts), export jobs and value overseas and hand back the empty husk of the country to the people who own it. Doesn’t matter if everything of value has been handed to someone else. They’re sell what they don’t own to cover the results of their fiscal irresponsibility.

    Heck! It worked for Romney. He’s a gazillionaire appointed and endorsed by God, to hear him tell it.

    Something to lift your spirits this morning from the Toronto Star about everyone’s favourite sceaming bigot.

    Roma group’s complaint against Ezra Levant prompts Toronto police investigation

    A complaint about broadcaster Ezra Levant’s rant that likened Gypsies to “swindlers” has prompted a Toronto police investigation.

    Toronto’s Roma Community Centre, which has called the rant “overtly racist, prejudicial, and demeaning,” lodged the complaint with police on Oct. 11.

    Const. Wendy Drummond confirmed Toronto police had received the complaint and were investigating the comments aired on Levant’s Sun News show, The Source, on Sept. 5.”

  3. ronmac says:

    A visitor from Mars can be forgiven if by now they are thoroughly confused with this picture.

    First we are importing Chinese coolies by the boatload to build the railroads and they are treated little better than slaves.

    Flash forward 150 years and we may be witnessing the arrival of another army of Chinese coolies, this time to build pipelines. Except this time the coolies are now in charge while the locals have run up the white flag and surrendered, without firing a shot.

    But us earthlings know that when it comes to oil anything goes.

    Years ago I came across a book called Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuściński, a Polish journalist. It describes the fall of Shah of Iran in the 1970s, but more importantly how oil and the sudden influx of petro dollars created a new wealthy class previously unknown in history.

    The lower members of this class, Kapuściński writes, “think nothing of chartering a jet to take them to Munich for lunch; the upper echelons, who would find the journey tedious, hire an Air France jet to bring them lunch, complete with cooks and waiters from Maxim’s.”

    With Canada on the verge of entering “dysfunctional petro state” status Kapuściński’s book may be worth exploring. Here’s his take on oil and its true nature.

    “Oil kindles extraordinary emotions and hopes, since oil is above all a great temptation. It is the temptation of ease, wealth, strength, fortune, power. It is a filthy, foul-smelling liquid that squirts obligingly up into the air and falls back to earth as a rustling shower of money…

    “Oil creates the illusion of a completely changed life, life without work, life for free. Oil is a resource that anaesthetises thought, blurs vision, corrupts.”

  4. Dan Davidson says:

    It’s breathing the gas fumes that does it.

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