Friday, November 14, 2014

Special endorsement of Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs

Bill Tieleman with Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs, Erin Coward
I have endorsed all of the Vision Vancouver candidates - from Mayor Gregor Robertson to the City Council councillors and School Board Chair Patti Bacchus and the Vision candidates and Park Board candidates.  I am confident they will do a fine job.

But I want to make a special endorsement of Vision Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs - because of the very nasty, defamatory and unfair attack he has been under from the Non-Partisan Association and mayoralty candidate Kirk LaPointe.

Politics is a tough game and I play and accept hardball.  Attack ads, negative campaigning and other challenges to your opponents are to be expected.

But accusing a sitting Councillor and the Mayor of "corruption" is below the belt.  And patently untrue.

Robertson and Meggs have filed a defamation lawsuit that has been discussed here previously in some detail and I won't rehash that.

What I will say is that Geoff Meggs does not deserve this attack and the negative publicity it has created.

I have known Geoff for over 30 years through our mutual work in the labour movement, progressive politics and important causes.  He is a person of integrity.

At Vancouver City Hall he has been a tireless worker for many issues, including improving public transit, the plight of low-income workers, the disadvantaged, homeless and those who often do not have a voice.   As BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair put it recently: "We need to have strong, clear voices that support working and middle class people on Vancouver city council.  Geoff Meggs is that guy."  

Geoff is also one of the most knowledgeable, thoughtful and well-prepared politicians I've met at any level - he takes his job and responsibilities as an elected representative extremely seriously.

Regardless of your political persuasion, I encourage all Vancouver voters to keep Geoff Meggs on City Council - and to send a message that there must be limits to the attacks on public officials.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Why I support Barinder Rasode for Mayor in Surrey

Bill Tieleman talks to Barinder Rasode in Surrey earlier this year
Last month I endorsed my friend Barinder Rasode for Mayor of Surrey - and with the election upon us, I'm taking the opportunity to say so again - but here:

“I have known Barinder Rasode for many years - and about her commitment to help all Surrey residents with challenging issues of crime, public transit and transportation, managing city expenditures wisely and making decisions openly.

So I am very pleased to endorse Barinder as the best choice for mayor of Surrey - to improve safety, transit and accountability to City Hall.”

Barinder has a background in the labour movement - I first met her when she worked for the Canadian Labour Congress - and takes a progressive approach to politics, something recognized when former Surrey Mayor Bob Bose endorsed her.

But Barinder is a "big tent" coalition person and has reached across some traditional divides to work on issues of common cause with people of different political persuasions.  That can be particularly useful in city politics.

I am also impressed with the team of candidates Barinder has brought together in her One Surrey campaign - I hope they do well on Saturday November 15.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Non-Partisan Association & Kirk LaPointe playing with defamation case fire that may burn them badly

Defamation lawyer Bryan Baynham is representing Vision Vancouver in lawsuit
Bill Tieleman's The Tyee column 

Tuesday November 11, 2014

By Bill Tieleman 

“Your reputation is everything. “If somebody libels you and defames you … if you have the ability to do it, you have to take them on.”

        - former Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams on his defamation lawsuit against the St. John's Telegram, launched last month 

Just how far can a politician go in attacking the integrity, character and morality of their opponents before it becomes a legal and not a political matter?

Vancouver may soon find out, because the Non-Partisan Association and mayoralty candidate Kirk LaPointe have not just crossed that line but sprinted over it in a reckless way they may deeply regret.

The recent filing of a defamation lawsuit by Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councillor Geoff Meggs against the NPA and LaPointe has been described by some as simply "politics" and par for the course in an election.

But there is a difference between criticizing the policies, approach and competence of your opponents and saying that they are "corrupt" - as the NPA has flagrantly alleged and stated as fact.

The details have been well reported elsewhere but revolve around contributions to Vision Vancouver by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1004 and Vision's ongoing opposition to the contracting out of public services - hardly a surprise on either count, since CUPE has long been a donor and Vision has long rejected contracting out.

But what hasn't been examined closely are the defamation lawsuit details - or the fact that the lawyer retained by Robertson and Meggs is one of the most respected and successful defamation lawyers in Canada - Bryan Baynham.

He's not just any lawyer - last year he was named Best Lawyers® in Canada 2013 Vancouver "Lawyer of the Year" in the area of Defamation and Media Law.

And I know he's a lawyer to be feared - because he was the lawyer who forced me and 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper to apologize to one of his clients over a column I wrote - the only such apology I've ever made involuntarily in writing for newspaper for nearly 40 years.

Baynham has also cross-examined me in BC Supreme Court when he was defending a lawyer being sued by several owners of my condominium and I was a witness.  It is not a fate to be tempted lightly, believe me, because Baynham is an intimidating, take no prisoners legal counsel.

Baynham is also currently representing journalist Laura Robinson, who is suing and being sued by former Vancouver 2010 Olympics boss John Furlong and has a long history of involvement in significant defamation cases.  Baynham's bulldog defence of Robinson and demands that the case proceed to court immediately have put Furlong in a difficult situation.

So I was rather stunned to see LaPointe - a former managing editor of the Vancouver Sun well aware of defamation issues - and the NPA not only continue to defend their statements and run TV and radio ads the lawsuit says are defamatory and refuse to back off but to then double down with a news release Saturday reiterating their contempt for the lawsuit's demand of retraction and apology.

That's what you call asking for punitive and significant damages should you go to court and lose.

And while some commentators have said that's unlikely, but when you accuse a politician of "corruption" and "breach of fiduciary duty" what choice do they have?  

As President of my communications and strategy consulting firm West Star Communications, I always tell my clients that allowing a defamatory statement to go unchallenged means it will stick around forever, being repeated indefinitely.  

And as a business owner for 16 years, I have had lawyers send defamation demand letters when my character was publicly attacked in an untrue and damaging way.

I also know both Meggs and Robertson well personally - and know that the allegations are painful for both, given their years of public service.

Charlie Smith, Editor of the Georgia Straight rightly concluded early on that if Meggs lost the November 15 election, his argument that the defamation - if proven  - cost him his council seat would make aggravated damages far more likely.

Smith points out that: "...under Canadian defamation law, the burden of proof always rests with the defendants.  You can't just say anything without being able to back it up."  

Indeed.  And especially not when you are facing one of the top defamation lawyers in Canada.

And what if Vision Vancouver - regardless of the election results - sees the defamation case as a way to severely financially punish the NPA, as well as politically damaging it in advance of the next election?

Certainly Baynham's response letter November 8 to the NPA's lawyer Geoffrey Cowper was indicative that this case will not be going away:

"While I accept that WIC Radio [NOTE: precedent setting defamation case] is the governing authority on the defence of fair comment the defence does not apply to the series of vicious personal attacks on my clients' integrity as detailed in the Notice of Civil Claim. 

Each defamatory statement was a statement of fact, not an "honest opinion" which would allow your clients to rely on the defence of fair comment.

Spurious allegations of intentional wrongdoing by an elected official are among the most serious defamations that can be made and tend to debase the whole electoral process and discourage good candidates from running for office.

The fact that they were made in the course of an election campaign, with a view to enhancing the electoral fortunes of Mr. LaPointe and his NPA candidates, is clear evidence of express malice which would defeat the defence of fair comment in any event. 

Rest assured, the Notice of Civil Claim was not filed "to manipulate public opinion" or to "bully" or "intimidate” your client as he has publicly asserted.

My clients commenced the claim to stop the "personal attacks" and "the gutter politics" employed by your clients.

Absent a full retraction and apology they will see that case through to judgment in the Supreme Court of British Columbia to establish a legal precedent that confirms once and for all that there are real consequences when a candidate falsely alleges corruption, vote buying and criminal conduct.  

It is ironic that had Mr. LaPointe stuck to the campaign pledge he made back in July he would not find himself in this predicament. That pledge was titled:

On running a clean campaign and avoiding personal attacks: 

It read in part:

So today I make this other steer clear of personal attacks, the gutter politics that people are fed up with. If they breach that boundary, I will resign as a candidate

I renew the demand to retract and apologize as set out in my letter of November 6, 2014
Please confirm that you have instructions to accept service on behalf of Mr. Lapointe to avoid the necessity of serving him personally.
In any event, please ensure that I have your response within the time limit set out in the Supreme Court Civil Rules."

Will this case become a new precedent for what can and cannot be said about politicians?

And will LaPointe and the NPA regret getting into the very "gutter politics" they claimed people are fed up with?

One former politician in the United States had something to say about that: 

"The public is increasingly disgusted with a steady diet of defamation, and prepared to reward those who refrain from it.”

- Mitch Daniels, former Indiana governor.

NOTE TO READERS:  This column was written for The Tyee only - 24 Hours Vancouver did not publish on November 11.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Vancouver Election Is a Tale of Two Cities: Vision versus NPA

Why you need vision in Vancouver vote

Mayor Gregor Robertson
Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday November 4, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

"A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams."
- Herb Caen, San Francisco columnist, 1916-1997
Let's call Vancouver's upcoming municipal election a tale of two cities: Vision's view versus the Non-Partisan Association plan.
NPA candidate Kirk LaPointe
Mayor Gregor Robertson's version is a Vision Vancouver city council that fights homelessness, works for better housing affordability and public transit, promotes green technology and the environment, and battles provincial school underfunding and corporate influence attempts, while still delivering excellent basic services.
Hence the ruling party's slogan: "Go forward with Vision."
NPA mayoralty candidate Kirk LaPointe's approach follows the NPA slogan: "A great city, badly run."
The NPA complains about Vision not yet ending homelessness, but says be "realistic" and votes against the city's homelessness action plan.
The NPA says it supports some environmental issues, but doesn't take a clear position on the proposed Kinder Morgan oil pipeline through Vancouver.
The NPA wants an "affordable" Broadway subway, but says details are forthcoming.
The NPA agrees with Chevron's "Fuel Your School" marketing program to give company money for education classroom projects, but doesn't criticize B.C. government underfunding.
Naturally, it's the opposition party's duty to criticize and be vague on their own plans -- the NPA's un-budgeted platform only came out last week, while the governing party has a six-year record to be judged on -- sometimes harshly -- along with its own promises for the future.
But on key issues the party differences are stark, and that makes for an important election.
Surprise, I support Vision
Regular readers know I support Vision, so it's no surprise that I believe Robertson and his council, school and park board team is the best choice.
With that, feel free to disregard my views, but I think the NPA has run a very strange and disjointed campaign.
From choosing ex-journalist and non-Vancouver resident LaPointe in a secret process, to the near-complete exclusion of incumbent NPA councillors George Affleck and Elizabeth Ball, let alone other contenders, the party is taking a risky approach.
LaPointe even jousted with his former Vancouver Sun reporter Frances Bula at a news conference, calling one of her queries an "empty question" and then walking away without answering, all caught on video.
Odd behaviour for a candidate with a media background in mid-campaign mode.
So far, polling shows the strategy isn't working.
A Justason Market Intelligence poll last month put Robertson at 46 per cent, LaPointe at 32 per cent, Coalition of Progressive Voters' Meena Wong at 16 per cent and others at six per cent.
Hard truth
The hard truth is that Wong can't win, but COPE could take enough votes from Robertson to elect LaPointe.
Green party councillor Adriane Carr and her two council candidates also can't win a majority, but could help elect NPA councillors over Vision, as could COPE, which hasn't elected a councillor since 2008, by splitting the vote.
Now, I've advised against strategic voting before. But that only applies to ward systems, where I argue there's no way to effectively split your vote.
In a multi-member election with no wards, as we have in Vancouver, every candidate is effectively fighting all others, including colleagues from their own party.
The Greens get little scrutiny, but Carr often sides with the NPA at council and surprisingly opposes Vision's plan for a Broadway subway.
Meanwhile, the Green party declines to endorse the environmentally minded Robertson for mayor despite not having its own candidate.
The once mighty COPE has fallen a long way -- just 216 members nominated their candidates, mostly complete unknowns.
The Vancouver and District Labour Council, a former ally of COPE, endorsed Robertson, all Vision candidates and just two COPE candidates in the three levels of city government.
There are a number of new party and independent candidates, all of whom face an uphill battle to win in a city-wide election where funding and name recognition are critical -- as well as having a last name that starts with an A, B or C on the archaic alphabetically listed and lengthy ballot.
But polls are not terribly reliable, and it's ballots on election day that count. So judge for yourself -- and whatever your choice, get out to vote Nov. 15!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan responds to Bill Tieleman's October 28 column on homelessness

NOTE from Bill Tieleman: Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan objected strongly to my October 28, 2014 columns in 24 Hours Vancouver and The Tyee on the lack of homeless shelters in his city, as well as problems in Surrey.  I appreciate his taking the time to respond and to put his position in writing - it is presented below unedited.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan - Burnaby Citizens Association photo
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan responds to Bill Tieleman's October 28 column on homelessness

By Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan

In a recent article, Bill Tieleman expressed his outrage over Surrey and Burnaby not taking up the cause of homeless shelters. Vision Vancouver has stepped into the wide gap left by provincial and federal governments and re-directed property tax dollars to social services, so why can't all the other cities? (Although he doesn't mention cities like Richmond or West Van)

Unfortunately, local government gets a meagre 8 cents out of every tax dollar paid by citizens and business. Ninety-two cents goes to federal and provincial coffers. 

So while Ottawa spends $35 billion dollars for new fighter planes and Victoria crows about the lowest corporate taxes on the continent, Tieleman insists that cities should either raise property taxes, or shift funds away from their own duties, to fix a problem that has been created by years of inaction by "senior" governments. 

Why is Tieleman letting them off the hook? After all, health and housing are clearly their job.

Even more simplistically, he thinks that overnight shelters solve the problem. Without permanent social housing, along with mental health and substance abuse treatment, shelters are a pathetic stop-gap that now perpetuates homelessness. It is the cheapest, but least effective solution.

It makes armchair liberals feel good, while people are shoved back out on the streets to be victimized at every turn. With nothing to transition to, it is an endless cycle requiring more and more shelters.

By the way, if Tieleman had taken the time to speak to me, he would have learned that Burnaby hosts the 100 bed Mental Health and Addictions centre at Willingdon, absorbing the myriad of police attendances that accompany such a facility. Unfortunately, even with a massive waiting list, it is about to close, because the province sold the land to balance its budget. We also host the youth treatment centre for BC.

Burnaby dedicates 20% of our density bonus funds from new development (millions of dollars) to non-profit housing and contributes city-owned space for non-profit organizations in our town centres. In our last attempt to support a transition shelter for women, advanced by Elizabeth Fry, the province killed the deal after public hearing and reimbursed the agency to the tune of $100,000 for their losses, claiming they did not have enough money to complete the project. 

Despite our outcries, nobody was interested. 

I am not going to criticize Vancouver for how it chooses to spend its taxes, but promising to end homelessness, when other orders of government have abandoned their responsibilities, is not a course our Council wants to follow. 

That does not mean we are insensitive to the needs of people who are hard to house because of mental illness or addictions. In fact, we will continue to demand meaningful assistance, the re-opening of permanent treatment facilities (like Riverview) and long term social housing. 

People struggling with mental health and addictions issues need an opportunity to live with dignity and integrate into our community. 

Tieleman should re-direct his outrage to the real villains in this tragic story.


Burnaby, Surrey Shirk Responsibility to Help the Homeless

Homeless need shelters
Meanwhile, Vancouver made it a priority to create shelter for those in need. What gives?

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday October 29, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

"And homeless near a thousand homes I stood / And near a thousand tables pined and wanted food." 

          - William Wordsworth, poet, 1770-1850

Pity the homeless in Burnaby or Surrey, because both municipalities are avoiding their social responsibility by refusing to open shelters for those in need.

Voters in those municipalities should be asking why. Why are Vancouver, New Westminster and other cities in the region doing more than their fair share while Burnaby and Surrey shirk their duties?

Sadly, it's unlikely that homelessness will be a major issue in the Nov. 15 municipal elections in either city, but pressure should be put on all candidates to do the right thing.

It is ironic that two of the most popular politicians in Metro Vancouver -- Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts -- are the ones declining to act on an obvious and pressing need.

Burnaby, astonishingly, has no homeless shelters at all, and adamantly refuses to construct any, blaming the province for any problems.

And for the second year running, Surrey will not have a winter shelter because city officials claim they can't find a location where neighbours don't fear its presence.

Homeless just aren't mayor's concern

Burnaby Mayor Corrigan has been clear: the homeless are just not his concern.

"Where some people worry about the indigent, the homeless, I worry about the working poor. We need these people in our cities, and we need to find a way to keep these people in our cities," Corrigan told a local paper last year.

While no one should disagree with supporting the working poor, Corrigan's comments seem particularly harsh. And he didn't stop there, adding that: "The people [in shelters] are the impossible to house... so addicted that all they worry about is the opportunity to feed their addiction, whether it's alcohol, drugs or anything else."

Last week, Councillor Paul McDonnell of Corrigan's Burnaby Citizens Association argued the same position: "How are you going to cure homelessness if you can't cure the person?" he said.

Others might ask, how do you cure a person when they have no home? Those who help the homeless say a safe shelter is the first step.

'Homeless people are just people': Graves

Meanwhile, Surrey won't open a 40-bed winter shelter that in 2012 provided shelter to 157 people over six months and helped nearly half find long-term housing.

Why? "People are scared to have programs of that magnitude in their community," Shayne Williams of Lookout Emergency Aid Society told 24 Hours Vancouver last week.

My Vancouver business office is next door to a new supportive housing unit that opened in 2012 thanks to the city, province and the non-profit MPA Society, and unfortunately some businesses and residents did oppose its construction.

But luckily they were unsuccessful, and since its opening residents of the Katherine Sandford Apartments have been no problem -- and lots of people in need are getting help.

Former City of Vancouver advocate for the homeless Judy Graves explained succinctly why some of my neighbours shouldn't have been worried.

"It sounds alarming to move homeless people in, as if homeless people were another kind of people," Graves said in 2012.

"But homeless people are just people who don't have a home. And as soon as they have a home, they cease to be homeless people and they start to look better... and will just become very indistinguishable from the rest of the community. That always happens, and it will happen here," she continued.

Vancouver made it a priority

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who I support, has been criticized for setting his government a challenging goal of ending street homelessness by 2015.

But Robertson made it his priority, and worked with the province to open new shelters, buy single room occupancy hotels run by slum landlords and turn them into decent, low-rent accommodation, create 600 new social housing units opening this year, and pledged to keep trying.

Not in Burnaby. Not in Surrey.

High-sounding words blaming other levels of government don't cut it for those in freezing cold, rainy weather who desperately need a warm, dry place to stay, and a hot meal.

Obviously there must be safeguards and sensitivity to community concerns when locating shelters.

But for big cities like Burnaby and Surrey to refuse to accept their responsibilities to the neediest in our communities is heartless and shameful.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The "Empty Questions" That Puzzle Non-Partisan Association Vancouver's Kirk LaPointe in his Campaign for Mayor

NPA candidate Kirk LaPointe after Frances Bula's "empty question"
Kirk LaPointe, the Vancouver Non-Partisan Association candidate for Mayor, is puzzled by several questions.

Most prominently, he accused veteran civic reporter Frances Bula of asking an "empty question" when she attended his news conference last week - then walked away without answering.

You can see the video of that through the link below:  

Kind of strange behaviour from someone who: a) is running for Mayor of Vancouver; b) is a former journalist and editor; and c) was Bula's own editor for many years at The Vancouver Sun.

But there are other questions that LaPointe seems puzzled by - or at least doesn't seem to want to answer.

And readers here know I support Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and his council school and park board team - so feel free to disregard my opinion as biased - but I think they are good questions that LaPointe needs to answer if he want to be Mayor.

Why is he running for Vancouver Mayor when he can't vote for himself and doesn't pay Vancouver city taxes?

The short answer is because he doesn't live or work in Vancouver - he is a resident of the University Endowment Lands and works in North Vancouver.  

Where is the full NPA platform?  What does it say?   How much will it cost?  Where will the money come from?

LaPointe has promised to release it regularly over the past few months - but it took until today, with just over 2 weeks left till the November 15 election - for the NPA to release "25 proposals to date" with a promise of more to come.  There is no costing, no budget.

And one more question: 

Who did LaPointe meet with from the NPA before he was appointed the mayoralty candidate with no vote, no public process and no disclosure of why he was picked?

Questions that need answers.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Desperate for Deals, Canadian, BC Political Leaders Quiet on Hong Kong Democracy Protests - Offer No Support

Democracy protest fills Hong Kong streets. Photo by Pasu Au Yeung, Creative Commons licensed.
Stephen Harper and Christy Clark choose trade over democracy to pump up resource exports to China

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday October 21, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

The fact that you are allowed to stay alive already shows the country's inclusiveness."
- Zhang Xiaoming, the head of China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong, to local legislators
How violently China responds to Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests will not only determine the fate of millions there; it will also have a major impact in Metro Vancouver and Canada.
Despite the massive trade Canada does with China, extensive travel between the two countries and the friendliness of federal, provincial and municipal governments towards China, it remains run by a repressive, military, allegedly "communist" dictatorship.
A Chinese crackdown in the former British colony would have serious political and economic consequences in British Columbia, as the province hopes to sell liquefied natural gas and increase exports of other natural resources to the Asian giant.
There are over 300,000 Canadian citizens living in Hong Kong, and those with relatives and friends there are concerned about their safety.
Rightly so, given Zhang Xiaoming's brutal response to local lawmakers after they asked if Beijing would allow a democrat to run for the position of Hong Kong Chief Executive, the region's highest office.
"No" was the answer. Choose from Beijing's approved candidates only, or else.
It could mark the end of a "one country, two systems" approach that has allowed limited democracy and freedom in Hong Kong while it remains part of China.
But despite the rising tensions, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has yet to say anything about Hong Kong, while B.C. Premier Christy Clark merely mouths vague hopes that violence will be avoided.
'Ottawa capitulated to China'
If actions speak louder than words, Harper's upcoming visit to Beijing in November for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings -- after ratifying a controversial trade deal with China -- says it all.
Harper quietly approved the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) in September, a deal so bad that veteran right-wing commentator Diane Francis wrote: "Ottawa capitulated to China on everything."
She went on: "The Tories, backed by a naïve Canadian Chamber of Commerce and a handful of big, conflicted business interests, have demonstrated the worst negotiating skills since Neville Chamberlain."
Meanwhile, the only public expression of Canadian government support for democracy is this lonely tweet by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird: "Aspirations of people of #HongKong are clear. Canada supports continued freedom of speech and prosperity under the rule of law."
The ministry followed up in a statement: "Canada reiterates its support for the implementation of universal suffrage for the election of the Chief Executive in 2017 and all members of the Legislative Council in 2020, in accordance with the basic law and the democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong people."
Don't expect Clark's support
Also desperate for deals with China, Premier Clark certainly isn't offering pro-democracy forces any solid support. She visited the country last December.
"It's really positive that the protests have been peaceful and no one's life is in jeopardy. It is, though, a very tense time, I know that," she optimistically said on Oct. 2, while adding that she continues to support "one country, two systems."
But with B.C. exporting $7 billion to China last year, one-third of Canada's total, Clark chooses trade over democracy.
Just like the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, which in June publicly opposed Hong Kong's democracy protests, along with other international business groups.
But former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney, appointed by Harper in 2009, says we have an obligation to speak out in support of democracy, and should coordinate with other countries to do so.
"China would like to see a world where we're all tongue tied and afraid of raising these issues," Mulroney said.
The last British governor of the city, Chris Patten, compared the election Beijing wants held, with its own hand-picked candidates as the only choice, to "more or less what happens in Iran."
Silencing critics
Mulroney points out that China is very sensitive to criticism, as I personally discovered the hard way.
I received extremely graphic and obscene death threats in 2008 after I wrote a column suggesting a boycott of China, not just the Olympic Games, over its treatment of Tibetan protesters.
The emailed threats included specific information, with the individual saying they had a gun and was inside an office where I worked, and claiming they would also kill my family.
After reporting the threats to Vancouver police after the emailer promised even more violent attacks, two officers arrived at my home within an hour.
Police soon found that the emails came from inside China, and said the Chinese government does not cooperate with foreign internet investigations. Case closed.
Fortunately, no further threats were received, and there was no evidence they came from anyone but a sick individual. But China's unwillingness to investigate shows that trying to silence critics of the regime in foreign countries goes unpunished. 
Canada's pathetic response to supporting Hong Kong democracy contrasts with China's ferocious opposition, and encourages using overwhelming force against brave protestors who are simply demanding what we take for granted: a vote.