Michael Harris weighs in this morning on China's bid to buy Nexen Energy. Five years ago, he reminds his readers, China was -- in Stephen Harper's lexicon -- the devil's disciple:
There was a time when Parson Harper presided over a morality-based view of “Communist China”, that iniquitous, one-party dictatorship that murdered its own students, threatened Taiwan, and trampled the rights of its citizens. The place that needed nothing so much as an improving lecture from you-know-who. The Bad China.
Under that policy, the Dalai Lama fared well with Stephen Harper. He got an honorary Canadian citizenship back in 2006. He got twice as many private meetings with the PM as Canada’s premiers have so far managed. And Parson Steve blew off official protests from Beijing as if they came from Papua New Guinea instead of the world’s most populous nation.
But, this spring, how things had changed. Harper went to China, looking like Jean Chretien leading Team Canada:
On Harper’s most recent trip, he led a delegation of 40 executives, including Patrick Daniel of Enbridge Inc., and Tom Gitzel of Cameco Corp., the world’s largest uranium producer. The goal was to make a pitch for greater access for Canadian companies to Chinese markets. It would be hard to get less access with only 3 percent of our exports going to China and a whopping trade deficit that doesn’t speak well of Steve’s business acumen. The inevitable banking and insurance conquistadors went along for the ride. They all love the new China policy. They should. They are its true authors and its principle, and possibly only, beneficiaries.
And that's the point. When there's money to be made, Harper bends to the wishes of his real constituency -- big business. And for business -- particularly those business that claim they are hamstrung by environmental assessments -- China is a new paradise:
There is a certain mad logic to the metamorphosis. With boat-loads of oil to sell, what better place to sell it than a country with no pollution regulations, no free elections, and a brutal leadership that doesn’t have to worry about environmental assessments. (Come to think of it, neither does Steve.) And unlike the Americans, the Chinese don’t have to borrow the money to buy our goo. Why, if things work out really well, the Harper government could probably offload mountains of uranium in China – strictly for peaceful purposes of course.
The Harper government claims it acts on principle. The truth is that the only principle it recognizes is profit. And everything -- and everyone -- is expendable for the sake of profit.