Jane Sterk's column (A trojan horse for Canada?, In My Opinion, Burnaby NOW, Nov. 9) casts a critical spotlight on the current proposed investment treaty between Canada and China. In a wider sense, however, it brings to the fore the steady erosion of Canada's financial autonomy over the last 40 years.
Back in the 1960s and '70s this country had a pretty robust sense of nationalism, due in part to the 1965 adoption of the Maple Leaf flag as the national symbol and followed two years later with the nation's 100th birthday. Our political community found itself engaged in continual debate over important matters of sovereignty such as continental defence, Canadian jurisdiction over the Arctic and ownership of Canada's resources. With all this burgeoning muscle flexing, it was a particularly good time to be a Canadian.
Arguably, the NDP was the leading voice of nationalism during that period. I clearly recall James Laxer, Mel Watkins - and I think Jim Lorimer as well - stoutly arguing that the ownership of Canada's resources (mineral, hydro power, farmland and presumably all real estate) be restricted to Canadian ownership. The big problem was that Laxer et al went too far in advocating out-and-out nationalization and therefore got plastered with the Marxist label.
Nevertheless they were loud and sincere and a lot of political careers - particularly Liberal ones who rode the nationalistic wave (for they formed national governments while the NDP didn't) - were made as a consequence.
That was a long time ago, and the landscape has changed mightily. The political mantra since at least the early '90s is a need for foreign investment. Investment implies a financial return. But 'investment' has turned out to be nothing much more than cash infusions into our economy. One can scarcely claim investment by someone from another country who buys up a dozen properties and rents them out: it may be an investment for the buyer, but how does this translate into any return for Canadians? Similarly, we essentially sell citizenship to those bringing a certain level of money into the country and we're not especially particular who might be carrying the suitcase full of cash: as but one example, the odious Gaddafi family "invested" several billion dollars in Canada, and we both knew it and welcomed it. The world is full of rich warlords, crooked national leaders and murderous drug kings seeking more-or-less compliant countries in which to, ahem, invest. Canada fits the bill. Perhaps all that noise in the '60s and '70s was just so much anti-Americanism - after all, back then only the Americans had any real money - and nothing more.
If that was the case, then maybe those heady nationalistic principles were not very deep to begin with, and that would be a shame.
Personally I think it is appalling that we should consider selling any resource to the Communist Chinese, be it to their government agencies directly or to any citizen of that regime.
And if we do, are we then in effect saying that the Americans presented a bigger threat to Canada's sovereignty in the 1970s than the Red Chinese do in 2012?
If that's the case, then it's become a world turned upside-down.
China's agenda is no big secret.
It wants to displace the United States as the global superpower, simple as that. And while I am dismissive of conspiracy theories of any kind, I truly believe that the essential element of this pact is pure Robert Ludlum/Tom Clancy come-to-life, part of an agenda that calls for nothing less than incorporating Canada into a dependency of and a source of resource extraction for China.
This trade deal that Ms. Sterk comments on may be just what we need to appreciate that there are others - both people and regimes - in this good old world of ours with agendas very much their own and not at all compatible with our best interests.
BH Pybus is a New Westminster resident.
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