150 Years of Canada Taiwan Relations and no Embassy Yet - Does it Matter?

  • May 01, 2023
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Zoom virtual lecture

    Reverend Michael Stainton 

Rev. Michael Stainton is the founder of the Canadian Mackay Committee, President of the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, and a retired  associate  at the York (University) Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) .

In the 1980’s he was a missionary with the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan working with indigenous university students , then in  rural community development and adult education. In the 1990’s he did graduate study in anthropology at York, focused on Taiwan’s democratization and indigenous rights movements. He has led two Canadian election observer groups to Taiwan.  In 1996 he organized the first visit of Taiwan Indigenous leaders to Canadian First Nations, to study self-government.

In 2000 he founded the Canadian Mackay Committee, to promote the memory of Canada’s first overseas missionary and outspoken opponent of the Head Tax, George Leslie Mackay (1844-1901) who is forgotten in Canada but a national hero in Taiwan. In 2022 he has been busy organizing activities and speaking for the 150th anniversary of Mackay’s arrival in Tamsui.

150 Years of Canada Taiwan Relations and no Embassy Yet - Does it Matter? 

Reverend Stainton will discuss the fascinating history behind Canada’s relations with Taiwan and from there to all of Asia.   
  • It started when Canadian Presbyterian missionary George Leslie Mackay began a mission in Tamsui, at the northern tip of Formosa, on March 9, 1872. After his death in 1901 the Presbyterian link continued, but now Taiwan was part of Japan, not China. In 1928 Canada’s first diplomatic relation in Asia was established with Japan.  
  • In 1943 Canada established relations with China and in 1945 Taiwan became part of the Republic of China. The 1947 “228”massacres on Taiwanese by KMT were witnessed by Canadian missionaries. Canada did not open an embassy in Taipei but  voiced support for the right of the Taiwanese people to self-determination.
  • Canada switched its recognition to the Peoples Republic of China in 1970 but the Trudeau government insisted “we are not going to sell out Taiwan”.  Training in a Christian strategy of non-violent social transformation was provided by Taiwanese Canadians, led by Ryerson teacher Albert Lin. They were a major factor in Taiwan’s peaceful democratic transition.  
  • Since 1989 the Taiwan’s representative in Ottawa is de-facto treated as an ambassador, and Parliament has passed resolutions in support of Taiwan’s international status.
  • Back from the grave 2001-2022 Mackay is officially a national hero in Taiwan, but bigotry against “missionaries” in Canada keeps him unknown. In 2020, in gratitude for Mackay, Taiwan gave over 2.4 million PPE as gifts to Canada when we had no masks. We still have no “embassy” but Taiwan is now a major partner for Canada in Asia.     

This event is part of the Spring 2023 Speaker series. 

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