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PandaGate – Panda Pandering

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 21, 2013

Okay last of three,  this time we talked about how Canada got our panda loan.

cartoon-harper-in-china

We have already talked about pandas and how the Chinese government has used them as an aspect of their foreign diplomacy. This leads us to the big question…

So, why did Toronto get some panda?

harper-as-nixonWhen Nixon went to China, it was a political gambit. The relationship between China and the Soviet Union was at a low and this was seen as a good time to widen the wedge between the world’s dominant Communist nations.

web-tueedcar26co1In hindsight, it seems to have worked.

Harper has put economics ahead of politics, in hopes of creating a “strategic partnership” with China.

HARROP-TOON-chinaTo put it in the devils…er, I mean Harper’s words…
“Our country is looking for new markets for our goods and services and…is an area of tremendous opportunity…We hope to expand on our strategic partnership with China and, in particular, we hope to deepen the economic and trade ties between our two countries.”

CHINA-CARTOON-2Peter Harder, a former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and now president of the Canada China Business Council put it like this “I would attach great significance to the fact that China would place in Canada’s care the pandas that are coming…It’s a signal of their desire to have economic as well as cultural and people-to-people relationships, and to that extent, I think it’s a significant development.”

The Panda Politic in this case has been thrown in reverse. Instead of China seeking the favour of a foreign nation with the offer of Pandas, Canada is attempting to show it is willing to play ball with China. Pandas now being lent to nations that have pleased the Chinese government as a sign of fealty.

DEW3241.pvwSome observers, notably the Financial Post, see it as an economic sellout to China that has too much influence in Canada already with little regard to playing by ‘western’ rules such as intellectual property rights or industrial espionage.

Is it appropriate for Harper to greet the Pandas while ignoring ‘more important’ events?

There has been a lot of criticism about Harper’s taking time out of his schedule to ‘officially’ welcome the landing of the Pandas. They will not actually be viewable for several weeks as they spend time in standard quarantine.

mi-ott-nishiyuu-parliament3It is a question of priorities. What is more important? The issues of the nation or Harper’s personal legacy of sowing sufficient fidelity to the Chinese state?

While in Toronto, Harper missed a chance to address a crowd of thousands of the Idle No More movement as they welcomed over 400 “Cree Walkers” who traveled by snowshoes to Ottawa, some from over 1600 Km away.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, did say he will eventually meet the Cree Walkers to hear what they have to say.

DEA3795sq-1024x1024Another criticism was of Harper being able to clear time for the Pandas but has not placed the same importance on meeting with the provincial Premiers as a group to discuss the economy, healthcare…anything really. He actually snubbed the Premiers late last year when they held their annual meeting on provincial affairs.

It might have been nice for him to get some face-to-face opinions about the then upcoming but just recently presented budget or shall we say ‘Economic Plan’.

PandaSARRecent leaks and document releases have shown that when it comes to Big Oil and other corporate interests, the Harper government seems to take great effort and time to ensure they serve the needs of the business class. Likewise, the main function of the mission to China a year ago was not to get pandas but to ensure that China knew Canada was for sale…er, open for business. The Pandas were the reward for confirming Canada was a vassal, er…compliant…er, I mean a nation ‘Open for business’.

It seems that the successful request for the Pandas came directly from Harper but under the ‘implied’ condition by the Chinese government that Harper travel to China to make the announcement personally.

RTXXX1KSo far it seems the arrival of the Pandas is a perfect photo opportunity for Harper…a man known to manufacture stage sets to make him look more…more…um, more human. So far so good…for him.

One could wonder what else was put on the table to entice the Chinese, who had been refusing earlier requests for over a decade, to loan us the pandas?

murphy_fipa2Correlation, not causation, shows that Canada has signed the China-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, which many on the left, right and center complain is very one sided. It strengthens Chinese private and state owned corporation’s rights at the expense of Canadian sovereignty.

web-jenkins-norther-gateway30China in the middle of last year purchased a major player in the Tar Sands, much to the consternation of those who worry about a foreign nation owning a Canadian resource in the purchase of Nexen for over 15 billion by China National Offshore Oil Corporation.

Encana sold half its share in Alberta Shale gas to PetroChina just prior to the Chinese changing their mind on the Pandas.

friedcar03-030212China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation purchased for 2 billion the Canadian oil and gas firm Daylight Energy about the same time. It previously got the Harper Government approval for a 4.65 billion stake in Syncrude Canada, one of the world’s largest producers of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source producer in Canada. At the time, many commentators worried about the influence of the Chinese government had over Canada…and its politics.

Well, it seems things have gone quite well…for China, but at least we get to look at some Pandas (not without a hefty price tag) for a decade…YEAH Harper…NOT!!

Canada's Economic Action Planda 2

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