Nexen deal proves Harper is China’s plaything – by Heather Mallick (Toronto Star – December 12, 2012)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Just this once, OK?

That sums up Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s terrified assent to China’s $15-billion CNOCC takeover of Calgary-based petroleum producer Nexen. From now on, he promises, he’ll only say yes under “exceptional” circumstances.

Harper had offered himself up to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair on a platter, and Mulcair set the platter on fire during question period. It was fun to watch but that’s little comfort. Nexen’s an awful deal for Canadians.

But Harper couldn’t say no to China because he wants quick money for a tarsands industry that’s starting to look weak and because he’s an ideologue who thinks all business deals are good ones. Are the markets happy? Gosh, yes. Are Canadians of all political stripes pleased by increased foreign ownership of Alberta’s precious innards? Irrelevant.

Harper’s a bully at home, a wimp overseas. He happily torments environmentalists, refugee claimants, women, unions, public servants, you know, the locals. He ignores Parliament or prorogues it, and treats the Investment Canada Act — which states that foreign investment must benefit Canada — as a joke.

That’s his shtick and to be fair, it plays well, at least in the West. But when Harper the bully is faced with the biggest bully of them all, the power colossus that is China, he hands over our jewels, our natural resources.

Here, have some bitumen, he tells China, and laughs weakly.

The Harper government knows that approving the sale of Nexen — as well as the $6-billion sale of Progress Energy to Malaysian-owned Petronas — angers Canadians. Most of us could not map Malaysia’s industrial strategy nor indeed Malaysia. But we know China well because everything we own was made there and, frankly, it’s starting to grate.

I don’t blame Harper for fearing Communist China’s wrath. It’s a monstrous place with a vast peasantry working for slave wages, a startling lack of interest in global warming, a North Korean level of tolerance for free speech and an admittedly brilliant use of debt used as a club against shrinking giants like the U.S.

China is implacable and the tarsands are wobbly. As the journalist Andrew Nikiforuk wrote recently in thetyee.ca, China’s funding of unbridled bitumen extraction will make the building of pipelines like Northern Gateway and Keystone financially necessary and therefore almost inevitable.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1300903–mallick-nexen-deal-proves-harper-is-china-s-plaything

 

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