Why experts say Canada should follow Australia’s lead on China in wake of Huawei crisis

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VANCOUVER—Canada should not be afraid to follow Australia’s lead in standing up to Beijing in policy and practice, say experts who have analyzed foreign relations for decades.

Ottawa has long prioritized economic gain over national security, worrying over the state of its relationship with the global heavyweight rather than voicing and defending its interests, say analysts.

Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne visited Beijing for his first time last month, which analysts say suggests that new, hawkish Australian security policy has been taken in stride by its heavyweight neighbour.
Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne visited Beijing for his first time last month, which analysts say suggests that new, hawkish Australian security policy has been taken in stride by its heavyweight neighbour.  (Andy Wong / The Associated Press)

The Australian experience shows that, over time, Beijing will make room for firmly drawn boundaries. A case in point is the 2018 overhaul of Australian national security and foreign interference laws that added 38 new crimes to the books. They cover, among other things, engaging in covert activity at the behest of a foreign power to influence politics and a ban on foreign political donations.

Then in February 2019, Australia blocked the citizenship application of billionaire Huang Xiangmo, a prominent political donor and former top lobbyist for Beijing, stranding him, possibly for good, outside the country where he had lived with his family for most of a decade.

Observers in both Australia and Canada said these developments constitute a “clear signal” meant to usher in a new, more muscular era for Australian national security in its response to potential threats from foreign actors, including its largest trading partner.

Despite sharp words from Beijing on the new, more hawkish stance, Beijing invited Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne to visit in November 2018, the first time in nearly three years an Australian holding that office had stepped foot on Chinese soil. Likewise, Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne visited China at the end of January 2019, even as reports confirmed that Australian writer Yang Hengjun was being held on suspicion of endangering national security.

Read more:

Global anxiety reflected in Australian outcry over Canadians detained in China

Huawei Night in Canada: Inside tech giant’s push to burnish its brand

Trudeau silent on how Huawei controversy will figure into private talk with Telus exec

An expert in Asian security and international relations at La Trobe University in Melbourne said this suggests diplomatic relations between Australia and China are being “reset,” despite significant tensions over the new legislation, Huang’s citizenship, and the imprisoned Australian writer.

“To me it proves that if you’re willing to just maintain your continuity of policy, not give in to pressure and don’t feel you have to buckle because of a perceived risk of economic retaliation, China can accommodate that over time in the relationship,” said Euan Graham, executive director of La Trobe Asia, who is charge of the school’s Asia strategy.

Tensions between Western countries and China should be expected, Graham said, and it’s important to accept that reality as part of the narrative so “we don’t just dress things up in terms of ever-closer friendship and partnership, because that has failed to carry the public with it.”

After extensive redrafting, Australia’s new laws passed with bipartisan support in parliament, suggesting heightened vigilance has become a permanent feature of Australia’s stance toward Beijing and other foreign powers.

“Australia’s experience should be an example for us, not just because it is admirably clear-eyed, but because it shows a degree of self-confidence that we should emulate,” David Mulroney, who was Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012, wrote in an email.

“China commonly seeks to compel its adversaries to capitulate without a struggle,” said Mulroney, who is now a fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. “We shouldn’t be afraid to stick to our principles because we’ll find that, despite its bluster, China is pragmatic and will seek to protect its own considerable interests in the relationship with Canada.”

Conservative MP Peter Kent said both Canada and China have “learned the hard way,” that the Communist Party of China (CCP) will use the country’s economic might to meet its “imperial objectives” by leaning on both Western countries and developing nations.

Kent, who served as a federal minister and international executive co-chair of the China council under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, pointed to “predatory economic policies” in countries like Panama, where China made several major national investments in order to “leverage” the Panamanian government into cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Kent characterized the move as “loansharking to gain influence” in Beijing’s bid to isolate Taiwan — a self-governing, democratic nation which China considers part of its territory — from international support.

“Increasingly, during our years in government, we learned to be much more cautious about an increasingly aggressive, imperialistic, bullying Chinese government,” he said.

Beijing’s growing economic influence signals a shift in “world order,” he added, which demands a change in Ottawa’s approach to engagement with China.

The issue of foreign influence and interference in the Canadian political sphere is another ongoing, slippery problem that successive governments have grappled with, Kent said.

“I hope the Liberal government is finally realizing that China is not like our democratic partners, that China does not recognize the rule of law or a level playing field or treaties or contracts signed, and it is time to rethink, perhaps, that relationship in the way that Australia has.”

But, he cautioned, with tensions between China and Canada escalating, now may not be the time to attempt redress with new legislation, which could be seen as a direct indictment of Beijing by an already-furious Communist Party.

The Dec. 1 arrest in Vancouver by Canadian authorities of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of star Chinese tech giant Huawei, outraged Chinese officials, who have since lobbed accusations of “backstabbing” and “white supremacy” at the Canadian government. In the following weeks, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained in China in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest, which observers have called “hostage diplomacy.”

China's Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye is one of several Communist Party officials to take aim at Canada over its arrest of a top Chinese tech executive in December. Experts say threats are par for the course in dealings with Beijing, and Australia's example shows boundaries can earn respect from the Chinese state.
China’s Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye is one of several Communist Party officials to take aim at Canada over its arrest of a top Chinese tech executive in December. Experts say threats are par for the course in dealings with Beijing, and Australia’s example shows boundaries can earn respect from the Chinese state.  (The Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, a federal review of the potential security risks posed by Huawei equipment in Canada’s forthcoming 5G infrastructure is underway. Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye has warned of “repercussions” should Canada follow the example of New Zealand, the U.S. and Australia in banning the company from such projects.

But allowing national security to be overshadowed by the quest to appease an increasingly belligerent foreign power is what brought Canada to its current diplomatic impasse to begin with, argued Alex Joske, a researcher working with the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.

“This is really something that to some extent the West has brought on itself by tolerating misbehaviour and non-compliance to international agreements and public statements and promises from China for many decades now,” said Joske, an expert in CCP influence, overseas Chinese communities and Chinese military technology.

“Because countries have historically taken this quite simple approach to engagement, where engagement itself was seen as a good, that’s just led to a lot of countries downplaying — or not really looking closely enough at — cases where engagement is actually not contributing to their national interest.”

But Paul Evans, director of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia, said while he believes some areas of Canadian law need reform to address the challenges that face a modern nation-state, Australia is not the example to follow.

“What I don’t support is the Australian national legislation,” he said, pointing to civil rights groups in the country who argue the new laws could be exploited by Australian officials looking to clamp down on domestic dissent by criminalizing protests or silencing opinions critical of government.

In particular, Evans worries Australia’s legislation risks blurring the line between citizens whose perspectives align with the Chinese government and those actively seeking to undermine the Canadian political process for the benefit of the Communist Party.

“I think (such laws are) unnecessary in Canada, because we have certain antibodies, or antidotes, to Chinese influence activities here that are not perfect, but that generally (work) fairly well.”

He pointed to numerous Chinese-Canadian communities that are finely attuned to identifying local players in organizations that work to realize Communist Party goals globally. They include the United Front, an offshoot of the CCP which works to influence local politics, the Chinese diaspora and foreign elites.

Huang Xiangmo, the Chinese national whose permanent residency was recently revoked in Australia, was chairman of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, which Australian analysts confirmed is “the number one United Front organization within Australia.”

The United Front is likewise active in Canada, according to Charles Burton, an expert on the foreign policies of Western nations toward China.

He said conversations around the limits and potential overreach of a Canadian legislation modelled on the Australian example would be challenging if not arduous.

But, he argued, difficult conversations are necessary given the charged and increasingly perilous nature of global relations, where the balance of economic power is shifting from the U.S. to China.

In the past, Canadian policy has been geared toward securing greater access to the Chinese market to “promote Canadian prosperity and to reduce our dependence on the United States,” said Burton, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad. Meanwhile, the concerns of Canadians over issues such as China’s human rights violations and pugnacious international conduct have been seen as secondary to the pursuit of expanding trade, he added.

The current conflict between countries does suggest that strengthening foreign policy now would not be “politically prudent,” Burton said. But once the Kovrig and Spavor cases are resolved, that would be the time to revise Canada’s plan on how it should engage China.

The Australian Embassy in Beijing. Experts say Australia's relationship with China provides proof a balance can be struck between clear-eyed engagement and clearly articulated, firmly defended national security policy.
The Australian Embassy in Beijing. Experts say Australia’s relationship with China provides proof a balance can be struck between clear-eyed engagement and clearly articulated, firmly defended national security policy.  (The Associated Press)

Australia’s example also provides lessons in terms of how intelligence services can most effectively track, monitor and address foreign interference, said Wesley Wark, a security and intelligence expert who served two terms on the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on National Security from 2005 to 2009.

“One of the real problems for Canada is for the last 17, 18 years, we’ve been obsessively focused with the question of terrorism, at home and globally,” he said in an interview.

“And because of that focus, we’ve paid much less attention, given much fewer resources, to dealing with both foreign intelligence on major state actors and foreign interference in terms of intelligence and espionage activities,” said Wark, who is currently director of the Security and Policy Institute for Professional Development at the University of Ottawa.

Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior manager and senior intelligence officer with CSIS, said competing perspectives on what form new Canadian foreign policy laws should take is exactly the reason legislation is needed.

From a national security perspective, he said the “Achilles heel” of democracy is that governments constantly pursue reelection. Because political winds may shift every several years, policy can be overturned when leaders change.

This is not the case with China.

“The Chinese government is there to stay. This allows them, with the central committee, to plan not only years ahead, but generations ahead … So agents of influence can be planted which will bear fruit only years from now. They have the capability to be patient.”

It’s a competitive advantage that short-sighted Western governments are hard-pressed to address through policy alone, he said.

The value of a law is that it survives regime changes. And while thrashing out new, potentially controversial legislation can take years, it’s a challenge that can — and must — be resolved, said Juneau-Katsuya.

Perrin Grauer is a Vancouver-based reporter covering community issues and Canada’s drug policies. Follow him on Twitter: @perringrauer

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Where is Santa now? Follow NORAD’s Santa Tracker 2018 – National

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Want to find out where Santa Claus is right now? Every Christmas Eve, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) deploys its cutting-edge technologies to track Santa Claus‘ movements as he scrambles to deliver presents to children around the world.

A joint Canadian-American venture, NORAD’s day job is to provide air security and aerospace warning services. But come the holiday season, the organization takes on the added responsibility of providing minute-by-minute updates on Santa’s whereabouts.

This year, Canadians can keep tabs on Santa’s journey on the 2018 NORAD Santa Tracker website, the official Facebook and Twitter pages, and via NORAD’s official Santa Tracker app, available for Apple, Android and Windows devices.

Google also offers its own Santa-tracking website, complete with a variety of games and an advent calendar.

But if you’d rather keep it old school, you can simply dial 1-877-HI-NORAD to speak to a volunteer.

But how exactly does NORAD keep track of Santa’s magical sleigh? Thanks to Rudolph, and a little technology, the process is quite simple.

NORAD says its command centre’s Defense Support Program satellites use an infrared sensor to detect heat signatures from Rudolph’s nose to provide accurate tracking of the sleigh.

The NORAD Santa Tracker project began after an advertisement misprinted a telephone number for kids to reach Santa, causing kids to call the commander-in-chief of the now-defunct Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) back in 1955

It may have been an inconvenience at the time, but it sparked an annual tradition that was taken over by NORAD in 1958.

This year, Santa’s sleigh route will see him head south from the North Pole before travelling west through Asia, down through Africa and then north through Europe before making the trans-Atlantic journey to visit North and South America.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Follow These Rules for Perfect Braised Brisket, Every Time

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Every Monday night, Bon Appétit editor in chief Adam Rapoport gives us a peek inside his brain by taking over our newsletter. He shares recipes he’s been cooking, restaurants he’s been eating at, and more. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.

The Rapoport guide to brisket

If it’s Hanukkah in the Rapoport household, it smells like brisket—kind of sweet, a little bit spicy, really meaty, pass the latkes, and can I get a bit more of that gravy?

We celebrated last night (a week late—I know, I know) because, well, the Rapoport siblings live here and there, and we get together at my mom’s when we can.

I picked up a five-pound beef brisket from the butcher, comprising the “point” cut, which means the more marbled portion of a brisket. The flat, or first cut, is more common, and larger. But the point yields a richer, more luscious final product. (As Carla Music likes to say, “the point is the point.” Remember that when you head to the butcher.)

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Pretty much every year, I make my mom’s recipe, which she got from her friend Doris Feinsilber back in the early ‘70s. It leans more, how should I say…Midwest, down-home than what you might consider “Jewish.”

The key ingredients to Maxine’s brisket recipe: a 14-ounce bottle of Heinz ketchup, some Worcestershire sauce, a bit of brown sugar, a couple of onions and bunch of dried spices.

Which, if you think about it, is not dissimilar to the brisket recipe we ran last year from Cambridge, Massachusetts’ excellent new-school deli, Mamaleh’s (pictured up top). Whereas Maxine’s version relies on ketchup for sweetness, Mamaleh’s turns to Manischewitz concord grape wine.

In either a case, the blend of sweet and spicy elements produce a tangy sauce, not unlike what you find with Texas barbecued brisket. It proves the perfect complement to the rich, fall-apart-tender meat.

adam brisket horizontal

Photo by Adam Rapoport

Whichever brisket recipe you opt for, just remember a couple of things:

  • Salt it well all over. It’s hefty cut of meat; it can take it.
  • Brown it well all over before you braise it.
  • Better to cook it a bit too long than too short. No one wants tough meat.
  • When the brisket is done cooking (pierce it with a knife; it should give easily), I like to remove the meat from the sauce to let it cool. You can do this a few days ahead, even. I then strain the solids from the sauce, and after the gravy cools in the fridge, I skim the solidified fat cap.
  • Now, the important part: Slice the cooled meat against the grain, and layer it into a baking dish and then pour the sauce all over it. (Pictured above on my mom’s rug, because you gotta do what it takes to get the ‘gram, right?)
  • Cover and slowly reheat at, like, 300°. Do this, and each slice will absorb the sweet, silky sauce—and become that much more tender—while doing so.

Brisket does the trick for pretty much any big holiday meal. Even when it’s a week late.

Get some brisket recipes:

Maxine’s Brisket (my mom’s recipe)
Mamaleh’s Brisket
Braised Brisket with Hot Sauce and Mixed Chiles
Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze

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Canada will follow ‘rule of law’ in Huawei extradition case, Justin Trudeau says

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OTTAWA— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has brushed off Donald Trump’s extraordinary boast that the U.S. president might intervene in his government’s move to have a Huawei executive extradited from Canada on fraud charges if it would help advance U.S. trade talks with China.

“Regardless of what goes on in other countries, Canada is and will always remain a country with the rule of law,” Trudeau told reporters Wednesday, as an international furor erupted over the apparent tit-for-tat arrest of a Canadian former diplomat.

Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained in Beijing on Monday.
Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained in Beijing on Monday.  (Associated Press file photo)

On his way into a national caucus meeting, Trudeau provided no update on China’s detention of Michael Kovrig other than to say government officials are engaging with Chinese officials.

“This is obviously an issue we’re taking very seriously and is ongoing,” said the prime minister.

The Chinese government has refused to acknowledge Kovrig’s detention, but repeated its call for Meng Wanzhou to be immediately released.

Lu Kang, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said the International Crisis Group, where Kovrig is a Hong-Kong-based analyst, is not registered in China and its activities in the country are illegal.

Meng is chief financial officer with the Chinese smartphone and telecommunications equipment maker Huawei. She was released on strict bail conditions while she awaits a formal extradition hearing in Canadian courts in the months ahead, where the U.S. is expected to present its case through Canadian prosecutors.

“Our request is very clear, that is, the Canadian side should immediately release the detained Ms. Meng Wanzhou and to protect her legitimate rights and interests,” Lu said.

The Chinese news agency Beijing News reported that state security was investigating Kovrig for violating national security, a serious charge.

But Kovrig’s employer, the International Crisis Group, denied he was engaged in anything other than above-board research and reporting, and moved decisively to put distance between Kovrig and his past work as a Canadian diplomatic employee.

It said Kovrig “has been a full-time and highly respected expert for Crisis Group since February 2017. Though a former Canadian diplomat, he no longer works for the Canadian government and is employed solely by Crisis Group.”

ICG says Kovrig was detained on Monday night in Beijing by the Beijing Bureau of Chinese State Security, and indicated the group has not yet been able to secure consular access to him since then, and is “concerned for his health and safety.”

In an email to the Star, ICG spokesman Karim Lebhour said China’s allegation that the organization was in violation of registration laws “is the first time we hear such an accusation from the Chinese authorities in a decade of working with China.”

He said ICG is trying to gather additional information about the allegations, but noted it originally opened its office in China in 2007 after consultations with the Foreign Ministry.

“We closed our Beijing operations in December 2016 because of the new Chinese NGO law and have been trying to formalize our status since then. Michael Kovrig has been working from Hong Kong which is not subject to the same law,” Lebhour wrote.

“Michael regularly visits Beijing to meet officials, attend conferences at the invitation of Chinese organizations, and on personal visits. He frequently appears on Chinese television and other media to comment on regional issues.”

ICG describes itself as “an independent organization that conducts field research and offers policy recommendations to help end deadly conflicts worldwide.”

It noted that its board of trustees included prominent figures from the highest levels of government, business and philanthropic institutions from more than 30 countries, two of whom are Chinese: Hu Shuli, founder and publisher of Caixin Media, and Wang Jisi, president of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her officials are expected to brief Canadian reporters late Wednesday.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Wednesday that officials, not ministers, had so far engaged with China on the Kovrig detention.

International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr appeared to dismiss questions a day earlier about whether now there could be business as usual between Canada and China.

Canada has “a sophisticated relationship with China,” Carr said.

“It dates back for decades, and it will survive ebbs and flows, as these relationships do. We’ve had ministers in China, we’ve had premiers in China. We are a country that believes in the rule of law. We don’t interfere with the judicial process. And that’s our decision.”

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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Follow the money as Doug Ford disrupts our democracy

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The beauty of democracy is that you get to vote the bums out.

But what if the next group of bums clings to the seat of power — rewriting the rules to undermine campaign finance reforms, handicap their opponents and advantage themselves ahead of the next election? And the one after that?

Follow the money. Keep an eye on the hypocrisy.

In opposition, Ontario’s Tories made their name by sullying the Liberal brand. They accused the last government of playing money politics through bribery, corruption and “cash for access.”

But from their new perch in power, the Progressive Conservatives are turning back the clock on hard-won democratic reforms that keep politicians accountable.

Buried in the government’s fall economic statement is disturbing new wording that would reopen the door to big money from big business (and big labour), while hobbling competing parties. It is sneaky, it is duplicitous, it is anti-democratic.

For decades, all three major parties profited from Ontario’s wild west of money politics. Under sustained media pressure (not least from the Toronto Star), the Liberals belatedly cried uncle in 2016.

Then-premier Kathleen Wynne banned the outsized donations that distorted decision-making by the government of the day, no matter which party was in power. Individuals had to attest in writing that they were not sneaking in “funds that do not actually belong to the person; or any funds that have been given … by a corporation or trade union for the purpose of making a contribution.”

Now, the new Progressive Conservative government is deliberately diluting those protections. As first reported by my Star colleague Robert Benzie, the latest language would remove the obligation of individual donors to certify that they are not being bankrolled by corporations or unions behind the scenes.

It is a retrograde development, part of a package of changes will diminish democratic protections in Ontario.

Make no mistake, powerful corporate interests funnel money to buy favours from politicians in power, or to curry favour with politicians poised to attain power.

Remember when Doug Ford, campaigning to become premier, promised a group of donors that he would slice and dice the Greenbelt to clear the way for commercial development? Only when a video clip of his jaw-dropping comments circulated online did an embarrassed Ford foreswear such action.

That’s how the game is played by all parties. A series of columns in 2016 revealed that senior Liberal cabinet ministers were assigned fundraising quotas — often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars — that could only be achieved by prostrating and prostituting themselves at the expense of the public interest.

Shamed into action, the Liberals enacted far-reaching reforms, reducing overall donation limits and banning corporate money.

Shamelessly, the Tories are now cancelling the requirement that donors certify they are using only their own money, on the dubious grounds that it is too bureaucratic. That’s like saying you shouldn’t go to the trouble of signing an attestation on your tax returns, because everyone already knows it’s illegal to cheat.

Insidiously, the Ford government is also bringing back the notorious cash-for-access event, where the premier and his most bankable cabinet ministers will once again headline their own fundraisers for lobbyists and corporate power brokers, who get to hobnob for a high price.

Disturbingly, the Tories will also eliminate (by 2022) one of the pillars of campaign finance reforms — the per-vote allocation that goes to all parties surpassing a 5 per cent benchmark. The $2.71 per-vote payment is a recognition that weaning modern political parties off big money calls for compensation in the form of secure public funding, rather than throwing them off balance and depriving voters of a diversified choice.

Based on their latest electoral performance, the PCs receive $6.3 million a year, the NDP $5.2 million, the Liberals $3 million, and the Greens $700,000. Under previous leader Patrick Brown, the Progressive Conservative caucus endorsed the so-called per-vote subsidy as a reasonable quid pro quo.

But Ford, flush with fundraising cash from his populist base, sees an opportunity to undercut the just-defeated, deeply indebted Liberals before they are fully recovered, while gaining an advantage over the NDP. Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, who backed Brown’s position in the past, has now fallen into line with Ford’s antipathy to the formula, saying that political parties “shouldn’t be a burden on the taxpayer.”

Implicit in that sloganeering is the proposition that parties should end up beholden to big donors. And that campaign reforms undertaken in good faith should be whittled down at the whim of the premier in power, at the expense of the parties in opposition.

Fedeli’s new legislation is cynically called the Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act. In truth, it is eroding all of the above — making it that much harder to follow the money, but easier to see the hypocrisy.

There was a time when the Tories cast themselves as reformers in the defence of democracy. Now, they are disrupters in the service of donors.

It looks as if you appreciate our journalism. Our reporting changes lives, connects communities and effects change. But good journalism is expensive to produce, and advertiser revenue throughout the media industry is falling and unable to carry the cost. That means we need you, our readers. We need your help. If you appreciate deep local reporting, powerful investigations and reliable, responsible information, we hope you will support us through a subscription. Please click here to subscribe.

Martin Regg Cohn is a columnist based in Toronto covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @reggcohn

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Follow This Game Plan for Foolproof Mashed Potatoes

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Every Monday night, Bon Appétit editor in chief Adam Rapoport gives us a peek inside his brain by taking over our newsletter. He shares recipes he’s been cooking, restaurants he’s been eating at, and more. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.

It’s time to master mashed potatoes

Three more Mondays till Thanksgiving. And I’ve already got mashed potatoes on my mind.

We can banter all we want in the coming weeks about the merits of parsnip confit (check out the new recipe) and BA’s famous shaved kale and Brussels salad, but I’ve always believed that the big meal is about nailing the basics. And there is no dish more essential, more satisfying than a large bowl of buttery, creamy mashed potatoes.

So let’s get to it.

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stovetop-mashed-potatoes-peeling-potatoes.jpg

Photo by Alex Lau, Styling by Sue Li

  • First up, the potatoes. At Bon Appétit, we love Yukon Golds. They not only lend an attractive golden hue to the finished product, but they deliver a richness that russet potatoes simply do not.
  • Salt. When boiling your Yukons, be sure to add a generous amount of salt to the water. This will infuse your potatoes, all the way through, with flavor. If you don’t adequately salt your water, you’ll be futilely reaching for the shaker at the table.

  • Moisture—boo! After you drain your perfectly tender potatoes, return them to the still-hot pot. Shake them around to allow any excess moisture to steam off. You can even turn the stove on low to aid this process. Ultimately, you want creamy mashed potatoes, not watery ones.

make ahead mashed potatoes

Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski

  • Flavorings. Yeah, no. This magazine and others, over the years, has called for everything from roasted garlic to horseradish. We’ve asked you to infuse your milk or cream with fresh herbs. Which is fine, if you really want to. But perfect mashed potatoes don’t need anything more than butter, salt, and cream. (Emphasis on the butter in our extra-buttery mashed potatoes recipe.) There will be so many flavors and competing dishes on the Thanksgiving table, your mashed potatoes should serve as the bedrock for the entire menu. So keep them basic, in the best possible way.

  • Tools. Do you own a ricer or a food mill? You should. Both are old school and both get the job done. The former is like a giant garlic press, the latter like a hand-cranked food processor. (A food mill is pictured below!) Each produces miraculously fluffy and smooth mashed potatoes. Not a lump to be found.

food-mill

Alex Lau

  • Moisture—yay! Chances are, if you’re the organized type, you mashed your potatoes ahead of time. Smart move. But when you gently reheat them just before sitting down at the table, you’re going to need to add some liquid to rehydrate them (they will have tightened up as they sat). So, either stir in some warmed milk and cream, or try adding some reserved potato water from the pot, all nice and salty and starchy. It does the trick.

  • Watch how it’s done. If you’re the type who’s a visual thinker, or you’ve just got five minutes to kill, or you just really like mashed potatoes, watch the always-charming Andy Baraghani make flawless, ultra-creamy mashed potatoes in the BA Test Kitchen. Then get in yours and do it yourself.

andypotatoes

Now choose a mashed potato recipe:

Extra-Buttery Mashed Potatoes
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Ultra-Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Baked Potatoes with Chives

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