Feds: No defunding talks with Halifax Security Forum over Taiwan prize

Feds: No defunding talks with Halifax Security Forum over Taiwan prize
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The Department of National Defence denies bringing up any discussion of funding the Halifax Security Forum during four communications which took place during one week — all on the topic of Taiwan's participation.

The four communications, which took place between November 9–16, 2020, were recorded as discussions concerning “the nature of participation of Taiwanese officials in the Forum” and the plan to award the John McCain Prize for Leadership to Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen.

Last year's Security Forum took place on November 20–22, 2020.

Earlier this year, the Globe and Mail reported on a rumour that the Canadian government warned the forum's organizers that they would pull funding if they awarded the McCain prize to Tsai.

Conservative MP Warren Steinley (Regina—Lewvan) requested information on the rumor in an order paper question, and finally received a response from National Defence last week.

Here's what Steinley requested:

With regard to the report that the government threatened to pull funding from the Halifax International Security Forum (HFX) if they awarded Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan with the John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service:
(a) what are the details of all communications, formal or informal, between the government, including any ministers or exempt staff, and representatives of the HFX, and where there was any reference to Taiwan since January 1, 2020, including the (i) date, (ii) individuals participating in the communication, (iii) the senders and recipients, if applicable, (iv) type of communication, (email, text message, conversation, etc.), (v) summary of topics discussed; and
(b) which of the communications in (a) gave the impression to HFX that its funding would be pulled if it awarded the prize to the president of Taiwan, and (i) has the individual who made the representation been reprimanded by the government, (ii) was that individual acting on orders or advice, either formal or informal, from superiors within the government, and, if so, who were the superiors providing the orders or advice?

The response indicates that all four communications with the Forum concerning Taiwan took place just before the event.

National Defence conducted a search of internal records for communications between the Deputy Minister and Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy), and representatives of HISF between January 1, 2020, and April 14, 2021, and found a total of 4 communications where there was a reference to Taiwan. 

Funding was not discussed during any of these communications. Further details on these communications are provided in the enclosed table.

You can read the order paper question and response for yourself below.

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  • By Ezra Levant

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