• By: Dan Donovan

Terry Glavin is Protecting us From Communism

ABOVE: Terry Glavin as he appears on his Wikipedia profile. (Photo: Jonathon Narvey, WRITEIMAGE) 

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to have a cogent and sane political discussion about China-Canada relations these days without it descending into a rabbit hole of incendiary invective and hyperbole. This is especially true in Canadian media. Ottawa Life Magazine (OLM) has been writing about China for well over a decade. We started a series about bilateral relations between Canada and China in 2012. We continued with the series after Canada’s political relations tanked with China in 2018, the year the Trudeau government agreed to acquiesce to demands from the U.S. Trump administration to detain, arrest, and extradite Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver International Airport on a U.S. extradition warrant related to the company’s business dealings in Iran. Meng is the CFO of Huawei and, more importantly, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei. (In 2019, it was disclosed that the Trump administration had pressured several European nations with a request to detain Meng, and all refused).

OLM wrote extensively about the Meng Wanzhou/Two Michaels case that paralyzed Canada-China political relations for almost three years from 2018 -2021. The Meng/Two Michaels saga finally ended in September 2021, when all three were released and returned to their countries. Unlike many journalists and mainstream media in Canada, we chose not to write invective-laced articles attacking China over the incident. Instead, we interviewed their two ambassadors to Canada during that period and published their responses related to the incident (Lu Shaye and Cong Peiwu).

Canada-China political relations remain at an all-time low. The situation worsened this winter when allegations surfaced, through a whistle-blower at CSIS, that the Chinese government interfered in the Canadian electoral process in the 2019 and 2021 elections.

In response to demands from opposition MPs, the Trudeau government retained former Governor General David Johnston to review the matter to investigate whether there was proof of political interference or corruption by China in the two elections or if China engaged in covert and illegal political or other activities in Canada.

In his report released last week, Johnston said there was evidence of Canada failing in its collection and reporting of intelligence gathering, analysis, and the policies adopted related to that information. Johnston claimed he found no specific evidence of gross political negligence. However, his report was widely criticized, and the Official Opposition Conservative Party, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois rejected his findings and continued to call for a full public inquiry. 

Ottawa Life Magazine has published several articles related to this issue, including two just last week. This is in keeping with OLM’s ongoing coverage of China, which has included Canada-China stories on politics, business relations, people-to-people relations, cultural affairs, opinion editorials, and interviews with the current and two previous Chinese Ambassadors to Canada.

OLM’s editorial coverage on Canada-China political affairs always includes the Chinese point of view — whether we agree or disagree with the positions put forward by China on any given issue. We continue to believe that the official Chinese response to these matters is important for Canadians to hear, otherwise, we are just talking to ourselves.

Sadly, Ottawa Life Magazine and I personally have recently been targeted and gaslighted by some in Canada’s legacy media for even writing about China in a manner that includes the Chinese position.

One of the publications involved in this activity is a digital platform called Blacklock’s Reporter which began in 2012 when six reporters, including Managing Editor Tom Korski, launched a website that publishes several articles each day, along with book reviews, poetry, and guest commentaries. They claim to be “the only reporter-owned and operated newsroom in Ottawa that finds the facts needed by business, labor, and associations.” This is, of course, not true — hello, The Hill Times, iPolitics, etc. — but I digress.

It is true Blacklock’s are independent and publish stories in the public interest. The problem is their arrogance and weird sanctimonious belief that they somehow set the bar for what is relevant reporting in Ottawa. They don't.

In fact, Mr. Korski and Blacklock’s were evicted from the Parliamentary Press Gallery (PPG) last December because of complaints made to the PPG by Canadian Press journalists Emilie Bergeron and Michel Saba and freelance journalist Hélène Buzzetti, who claimed Mr. Korski created a “toxic environment.” The PPG investigated and found the complaints against Korski were “well-founded” and that his behaviour had “constituted serious misconduct.” Korski was subsequently locked out of his office for the alleged “serious misconduct.” In response, Blacklock’s and Korski named the Parliamentary Press Gallery in an Ontario Superior Court lawsuit filed after the eviction. I have no knowledge if the complaints are true, but like most people in the media in Ottawa, I was aware of it. I also found it odd that a media outlet could manage to get themselves kicked out of the PPG.

So, I recognized Korski’s name when I received an accusatory-style email last week from him with the subject line, “I write regarding the “Enjoying Tea item by Ambassador Cong. It went on to say, by reference, “I am confirming Ottawa Life in 2022 received $22,947 from the Periodical Fund, and $13,624 the year before that.” Back to “Enjoying Tea.” “Please advise: a) was this a paid placement, and, if so, who paid and how much? b) paid or unpaid, why did you consider it suitable content? My deadline is today.”

The set-up was obvious. If Ottawa Life Magazine had received any money from Canadian Heritage and was reporting on something about China — especially an article about Tea at the Embassy on /International Tea Day — well, this might well be the Canadian Watergate!

Of course, Ottawa Life Magazine, like most magazines across Canada, applies when it can to the Canadian Heritage Periodical fund to obtain legislated funding for paid interns and journalism students and to support our platform.

However, it seems that Korski, being the intrepid investigative journalist he is, missed that we mention this funding on our homepage in the ‘About Us’ section of www.ottawalife.com. Sloppy.

Being both professional and polite, I responded to his question, “Why did you consider it suitable content,” saying, “Because we (like Blacklock’s) make decisions every day about what suitable content is and because we live in a free society and believe in a free press, we get to determine what is relevant for our publication and what is not.”

International Tea Day is an important event and day for many countries in Asia and Central Asia, including Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, and others. The Chinese Embassy hosted an International Tea Day event this year with several foreign embassies and ambassadors in attendance to talk about the importance of tea to Asian economies. It’s relevant because, despite the ongoing political friction between Canada and China, Canadian imports from China last year were CAD 76.85 billion, according to the UN COMTRADE database. 

I sensed my answer would not be the end of it, so I was not surprised when two days later, Korski’s gaslighting partner, a  National Post columnist with a particular disdain for China, Terry Glavin, wrote a methane-induced piece of piffle that was published on a platform called Substack claiming that because Ottawa Life Magazine has written articles on China that are counter to his views, we must be a shill for China.

Of course, Glavin never once contacted me or OLM for his story below, instead relying on his cub reporter and sidekick Korski to do his lazy footwork for him.

Under his moniker “The Real Story,” Glavin’s Substack article posted last week titled “Conservatives, the Media and CCP Psy-Ops.” Glavin refers to an op-ed we posted last week from Chinese Ambassador Cong Peiwu on International Tea Day as a ‘puff piece,’ accuses Ottawa Life Magazine of being “happy to carry Beijing’s water” and postulates that because OLM and other magazines have been covering China-Canada affairs, we must be under surveillance from CSIS.

It’s obvious from anyone who has followed OLM’s Canada-China coverage over the past decade that Glavin skimmed over the content, conveniently cherry-picked a few articles we published on China, and misrepresented what was being said and the context.

Here are some of his gems in real-time from the article. “Far be it from me to suggest that Dan Donovan’s Ottawa Life magazine is the media operation the CSIS report refers to, and to be honest, it could have been one of a handful of “magazines” I could think of. But let’s be honest here. Some “journalists” are happy to carry Beijing’s water for free. By extraordinary coincidence, our friends over at Blacklock’s Reporter had an amusing little piece this past week about Ottawa Life, the very magazine I was referring to when this series began.”

As a media outlet, OLM always assumes that regardless of what embassy or ambassador we are speaking with or interviewing — Turkiye, Kazakhstan, China, The USA, Russia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Iraq (all of whom we have interviewed numerous times over the past two decades) — that we may be under surveillance by CSIS or CSE or even another foreign intelligence agency. To not think that would be naive in the extreme. OLM is open and transparent and has nothing to hide. We ask questions and write the responses.

Glavin is an advocate journalist and very strident in his beliefs. Don’t believe me, just read his articles. He doesn't write news; he writes his opinion and interpretation of responses, which may or may not be true. He is the type of journalist who thinks he has all the answers because he follows issues closely and, at times, brushes close to those making decisions.

He is not the decision-maker and therefore is like an impotent man who can only watch, which must be the source of his frustration and apparent anger. How else to explain his effort to discredit Ottawa Life Magazine? He fails to mention that two of our interviews with Ambassador Cong were picked up by other national media because they contained important answers from Cong on both the Canadian canola ban and the condition of the two Michaels at a critical time.

So blinded by his vitriol against China and anyone writing a narrative about China that doesn’t fit his own, he refers to an article about International Tea Day at the Chinese Embassy as a “puff piece” only because he appears too obtuse to recognize that the point of the tea article was to show that other than the overheated political rhetoric between Ottawa and Beijing, the business relationship has never been stronger. This does not fit the ‘everyone should dislike China’ narrative that Glavin postulates.

How do we know this? Well, last year, trade between the two countries hit record levels, with imports breaking the CAD 100-billion mark for the first time, Statistics Canada data shows — the highest ever — and other than the political rhetoric in Ottawa, it’s business as usual. Even within the diplomatic community, things are running at a normal pace, with receptions at the Chinese embassy and elsewhere.

Heaven forbid OLM publish an article on International Tea Day as part of our weekly editorial. It’s not like Blacklock’s publishes poetry or anything light like that! Of course, Glavin also omitted the part where Ottawa Life Magazine published two articles last week calling for a public inquiry into the alleged interference. But that, too, would not fit his pre-conceived narrative.

The best smear by Glavin was the gem, “Donovan’s Ottawa Life has published so many sweet essays by Chinese ambassadors over the years I lost count trying to add them up.” He conveniently leaves out context. OLM has been writing a “series” on China for 11 years. A series means many articles. For example, there have been three Chinese Ambassadors in Ottawa during this period, and we have interviewed all of them. If he bothered to take in the substance of what he was reading instead of just rearranging lines in the interviews to fit his drive-by-shooting narrative, it might have been a learning moment for him.

Glavin has written on Indigenous issues and residential schools and suffering in Canada. But he doesn't mention the OLM interview with former Ambassador Lu Shaye, where that issue is raised. Why would he, since it would get him off his trajectory? In a further bout of nastiness, Glavin refers to an article I wrote as “slobbering at the feet of Ambassador Cong.” As Pierre Elliott Trudeau once said, “I’ve been called worse things by better people.”

Read the article here for yourselves and decide if anything said here is preposterous (Of course, Glavin conveniently did not include the link in his article).

In Terry Glavin’s world, his view of China must be the bellwether, or you are a puppet of the regime. For a learned person, his superiority complex, arrogance, and sense of self-importance show all the characteristics of a true narcissist.

One thing I’ve learned in my travels as a journalist over the past 26 years, whether it’s to Gaziantep, Türkiye near the Syrian border to write about Syrian refugees during the ISIS conflict or as an accredited international media representative for a presidential election in Kazakhstan, or in my travels through different parts of China, Central Europe, Europe, Russia, South and Central America and many other places is that I am not a know-it-all and I don’t know it all. That is why I report what is being said-not my interpretation of what is being said. I can also say that as a former chief of staff to a federal minister, political aide, and senior executive with a global Fortune 500 company that the world is not as simple as Terry Glavin thinks it is.

I find it perplexing and disappointing that a Canadian ‘journalist’ would be so keen to gaslight or diss another Canadian media platform in such an underhanded manner. It is corrosive and does nothing to improve the overall media landscape in Canada today.

I must say I laughed out loud as a former infantry soldier in the Canadian Forces when I googled Glavin, and a photo of him popped up in his profile on Wikipedia of him holding a Soviet-style AK 47 and wearing a keffiyeh. I thought, “OMG-that's Jason Bourne.” He is protecting truth and correct thinking in Canada by spending lots of his time attacking independent Canadian publications in a covert manner. He may not have posted the photo, but he sure posed for it. Yeah, he’s Batman for sure, so don’t worry — thanks to his brilliant insights, you are all protected from the content in Ottawa Life Magazine and from communists worldwide.

Finally, and for the record, Ottawa Life Magazine stands by every single article that has been published in the pages of our magazine on China since 2012.