Education Minister Dominic Cardy is getting rid of a Chinese language and culture program in schools as teachers fear teachers will blacklist topics that cast a bad light on China and n ‘teach what the Chinese Communist Party approves.
The non-profit Confucius Institute has a presence in 28 schools in New Brunswick, with more than 5,441 students participating in 2016, according to the organization’s website.
It is largely funded by the Chinese government and was introduced to New Brunswick in 2008, when Shawn Graham was the Liberal premier.
At the time, the government of New Brunswick stated that the mandate was to teach and promote Chinese language and culture.
But Cardy said it was clear to him that the real mandate of the program was to present a “one-dimensional” view of China and to influence students to view the country only in a positive light.
“Their job is to create a friendly and cheerful face for a government that is responsible for more deaths than almost any in the history of our species,” Cardy said Thursday.
“And I don’t think that in an education system that is supposed to be the vehicle that transmits our values to the next generation, it is appropriate to show that we are open to a government that behaves this way.”
The program welcomes Chinese teachers who have taught Mandarin, history and various cultural practices, including calligraphy and the arts, in different classrooms across the province. The 28 English schools include elementary and secondary schools in Fredericton, Oromocto, Bathurst, Saint John, Moncton, Dieppe, Rexton and Richibucto.
Cardy said he had already issued the Confucius Institute with a letter of intent to discontinue the program. He hopes he will be gone by June.
He has also already informed Prime Minister Blaine Higgs, as well as members of the cabinet, of his intention to abolish the institute. Cardy is reviewing the contract between the province and the Confucius Institute so that it can be terminated.
“This is something that worried me. Not because of feelings of aversion to anyone in China, quite the contrary. My concern is that we have an institute whose job is to put a very one-dimensional perspective. from China in our schools
Cardy says he recently received five complaints from students who have taken Confucius Institute programs. Each told about topics from Chinese history that were beyond discussion.
“One of them tried to discuss the recognition of Taiwan and the professor told him that he was not allowed to have this discussion,” Cardy said.
CBC News requested a copy of the letters, as well as a copy of the letter of intent sent to the Confucius Institute.
CBC News and Radio-Canada have also made several attempts to contact the Confucius Institute in New Brunswick. No email or phone call was returned.
History of the controversy
Cardy’s decision to remove the Confucius Institute from schools follows similar moves in other jurisdictions. In 2014, the Toronto District School Board voted to remove the institute from its schools following protests. McMaster University and the University of Manitoba have also removed the Confucius Institute from their campuses for reasons of academic freedom.
Educators weren’t the only ones to sound the alarm bells about the Confucius Institute. Seven years ago, CSIS issued warnings about the program. The agency suspects that the Confucius Institutes are being used as satellite spy offices by China, according to a veteran Canadian agent.
In 2012, Michel-Juneau Katsuya, former head of CSIS’s Asia-Pacific office, compared the Confucius Institute to a “Trojan horse”. He said the programs were being used by the Chinese government “to carry out intelligence and espionage activities”.
Defend the program
When Graham appealed to the Confucius Institute, his government said it would also be a resource for companies looking to do business in China.
Despite criticism now, Graham said the program shouldn’t be canned so quickly.
“To drop the program today, just by three or four students saying they weren’t allowed to talk about Chinese politics, I think the best course would have been to undertake a review of the program,” Graham said. .
“Make sure the rules are followed,” he said. “Then you can better determine as a government how you want to send your first signal to this country.”
Graham now owns a consulting firm, G&R Holdings, where he works with several Chinese companies to increase trade between China and the east coast of Canada.
“Does China matter, or does China not?” ” He asked.
“Today the government of New Brunswick must do business with China, so we must be careful and cautious in these intensified diplomatic times that show we want to respect human rights, and the federal government must continue to push for it. ”