We replace Yukonomist’s regular column this week with a reprint from a document discovered in a returned rental car at Whitehorse airport, found along with Chinese take-out boxes and a copy of the Globe and Mail article on foreign intelligence agency penetration of provincial cabinet ministers. Both the Globe article and document below appear to have been used to wipe up spilled sweet and sour sauce and are not completely legible.
Page 4/4 – Surveillance Transcript LK2240/a/2 – SECRET (CANADIAN EYES ONLY)
Translated 16JUN10 2310Z – Source language: Chinese. Translator FRD/PLJ
39. Voice 1 (Chinese man). Is the microphone in place?
40. Voice 2 (Chinese man). Yes. They never sweep.
41. Voice 1. What is our cover story if someone sees our car?
42. Voice 2. Don’t bore me with procedure. Same as usual. We have all this equipment because we are trying to tune in the excellent radio content of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, but our shoddy Taiwanese made XM Radio equipment has failed.
43. Voice 1. [expletive deleted]
44. [pause of 10 seconds]
45. Voice 2. Are those CSIS guys still following us?
46. Voice 1. All you can eat buffet at North Dragon. We are safe until 1:30.
47. [giggling – 5 seconds]
48. [pause – 240 seconds]
49. Voice 1. Remind me why we are bugging these guys?
50. Voice 2. They are discussing whether to give permits to a mine. Beijing is very interested. State company [unintelligible] has significant investments.
51. Voice 1. These guys?
52. Voice 2. Yes. In Canada, the most amazing people get to make decisions. The local politburo here wouldn’t last 20 minutes at a Hunan commune meeting.
53. [pause – 30 seconds]
54. Voice 1. Here they come! Cabinet meeting starting!
55. Voice 2. I can’t hear anything.
56. Voice 1. You have to plug in your headphones.
57. Voice 2. [Expletive deleted]. And your mother too. [pause – 5 seconds] All I hear is shouting.
58. Voice 1. All the meetings start that way. The Ah-deen [trans: slang for triad gang boss] shouts for five minutes, then sends one of the ah-fay [trans: slang for petty gangster] to get fresh dumplings [trans: doughnuts]. Watch. In 10 seconds a minister will come out front door and walk briskly past public library.
59. [pause – 10 seconds]
60. Voice 2. Ah. There he is.
61. Voice 1. He looks nervous. Hunted, even. Ah-deen bullies them like South Korean schoolchildren.
62. Voice 2. But the minister didn’t look nervous in those photos we took at the party after the trade show!
64. Voice 1. Wait. Xiao-gezi (trans: little man) is speaking about the mine. [pause – 5 seconds] Oh, Ah-deen is shouting at him again.
65. Voice 2. About the mine?
66. Voice 1. No, some parents are resisting efforts to fire teachers at their school. Xiao-gezi has failed Ah-deen.
67. Voice 2. Why don’t they just liquidate them?
68. Voice 1. The teachers or the parents?
69. Voice 2. [unintelligible] Want a Tim Hortons dumpling? Always fresh.
70. Voice 1. Now the woman is saying something about the mine. [pause – 5 seconds] No wait, Ah-deen has interrupted. Ah-deen has sent the Minister of Highways to check the football score.
71. Voice 2. North Korea?
72. Voice 1. Spain versus Switzerland.
73. Voice 2. Whatever. [Tim Hortons doughnut bag noises]
74. [pause – 20 seconds]
75. Voice 1. [expletive deleted] Now someone else has come into the room! They are talking about giving themselves raises again! And their special ministerial pensions. It’s all they ever talk about! Well, that and their cabins at Marsh Lake. We will never get to the mine.
76. Voice 2. They can give themselves raises? Doesn’t Ottawa liquidate them if they do that?
77. Voice 1. No. This is Canada. No one gets liquidated!
78. [pause – 5 seconds]
79. Voice 2. How did the West ever dominate us for so long?
80. Voice 1. [sighs]
81. Voice 2. So we report to Beijing that nothing happened?
82. Voice 1. [Cry of alarm] No! Then they’ll send us to Kyrgyzstan to take dirty photos of their minister of Mines.
83. Voice 2. So we make something up?
84. Voice 1. Yes. Very important policy debate. Chinese interests on the knife edge. I told Beijing we had an agent in Whitehorse.
85. Voice 2. Oh yeah. That’s why we have the cash in the red envelope. Who is it again?
86. Voice 1. [illegible/sweet and sour sauce smear]
87. Voice 2. You realize that if we tell Beijing something really happened, they’ll assign us to follow these people on their next business trip to China.
88. Voice 1. You mean that ratty nightclub they like in Xin Tian Di? [trans: bar zone in Shanghai]
89. [pause – 10 seconds]
90. Voice 2. They sure are cheapskates. Oh well. Better than Kyrgyzstan.
91. Voice 1. Look. The CSIS guys are finished the buffet. Smile and wave, comrade.
Keith Halliday is a Yukon economist and author of the Aurore of
the Yukon series of historical
children’s adventure novels.