Pandering to the Chinese

Ed
Ed Smith
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They said that if I searched long enough, hard enough and deep enough ...

I'd eventually find something to admire about Stephen Harper. That's Stephen Harper the prime minister, you understand.

I don't know Harper the man very well. In fact, I don't know him at all and am prepared to keep it that way without too much loss of sleep. Perhaps I'm being too hard on the man, but considering how hard he's being on me as a pensioner, a Newfoundlander and Labradorian and a Canadian, I'm not worried too much about it.

I heard a story about Mr. Harper just this past week from an impeccable source. Seems St. Peter was showing this man around heaven and pointing out areas of interest. The man noticed that there were several clocks on display on the shelves lining the halls and corridors and asked what they were for.

"Oh," the Saint replied, "these are clocks that tick whenever the person who owns them tells a lie. For example, the clock on your right has never ticked - it belongs to Mother Teresa. The clock next to it has only ticked once - it belongs to Abraham Lincoln."

"I see," the man said. "What about that space where there's no clock?"

"That's where Stephen Harper's clock used to be," Peter replied. "I took it back to my own room."

"Why would you have it back there?"

"Because it ticks so fast I like to use it as a fan on hot nights."

You may not believe it, but that's a true story. Would St. Peter lie?

You will have read elsewhere that the prime minister has negotiated with the People's Republic of China for the loan of two adult giant panda bears for 10 years. Aha, you say, what a coup! No other prime minister in our history has been able to manage it. Perhaps that's because those other prime ministers looked into the arrangements a little more carefully. The devil, as they say, is in the details.

Before getting to that, however, I should point out that I did a little survey around the province to see how people generally felt about it. A woman from Bumblebee Bight thought it was a great idea.

"I'd go to see them every day," she said, "even if it costs a loonie every time."

I pointed out gently that the pandas would be going to zoos in Toronto and Calgary.

"I thought they'd be coming to Pilley's Island," she said. "That crowd out West got everything. That's Stephen Harper looking out for his friends."

A man from Nain said he didn't give a rat's posterior one way or the other. So did a fellow from Croke, except he didn't say "posterior." (Gotta love those people from Croke - it's where I spent the first winter of my life while my father and his family cut logs for their sawmill in St. Anthony. I wasn't a lot of help.)

Told a young boy in Grade 6 from Grate's Cove about Harper bringing over adult pandas from China and asked what he thought of it. His reaction surprised me.

"I think they should be set loose on the Funk Islands in the middle of February," he said. "Let's see how they'd handle that."

"Surely you don't expect pandas to survive in a place like that," I protested.

"Not the pandas," he cried in horror. "The Harper Conservatives."

I shook hands with him warmly and thought of what a great job our teachers must be doing to be developing young minds with those insights. Come to think of it, one of the best teachers I ever had was from Grate's Cove. His last name was Noel.

China has been known to charge $1 million administration fee simply for loaning the animals to another country, and that's just the beginning of it.

A couple from Rose Blanche ventured the opinion that the Canadian taxpayer would probably have to feed them as well.

"No doubt they eat IAMS," he said. "Won't be any no-name brand for them. Costs a fortune."

"Yes," his wife agreed, "not much bamboo growing around here. Probably have to bring it in from Cuba."

I hesitated to tell them that some experts have suggested the cost of keeping them for a decade would be about $19 million. Others have speculated that in order to build a panda pavilion, it might be necessary to downgrade the beaver and black bear exhibits.

Don't suppose the Japanese would be willing to shell out a few million to us for some seals. We can throw in a few pelts, a few dozen flippers, a dozen cases of seal oil and, if necessary, John Efford.

No one knows what deals Harper has made with the Chinese in order that Torontonians and Calgarians can gaze their fill at cute, furry animals that would rip you apart as fast as any grizzly. He's talking free trade with the Chinese. If that wouldn't cause the hackles on your neck to rise. ...

Someone once said that Canada living next door to the U.S. of A. is like a mouse being in bed with an elephant, or something like that. Basically, what it means is that when you get screwed it's really going to hurt. Now you might consider the population of China compared with our own.

But deals can be made when one has the will to make them. China wants our natural resources, such as our oil, our minerals and our food. A lot of mouths to feed over there. We have a few seals over here, as well as a scattered fish.

I wonder if the word fish came up as often as the word wheat. And I wonder if the word seals was mentioned at all.

Oh yes, you know the "they" in "they said" in the first sentence of this column?

"They" were wrong.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Geographic location: People's Republic of China, Toronto, Calgary Pilley's Island St. Anthony Funk Islands Rose Blanche Cuba Canada U.S. Springdale

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Recent comments

  • I vote with my money
    February 20, 2012 - 09:28

    I vote with my money. For me, that means buying foriegn manfactured goods because I want Canadian manfacturing to die, and avioding Canadian processes fish because I want the Canadian fishery to die. I invest only in right to work states because I want a corporate climate that is free of unions, and I donate 6 figures to the Conservative because I believe in their policies. I also donate heavily to the Republicans in the US because it is in my best interests. In short, I support businesses that have a larger white collar Canadian workforce, because those are the jobs that I want for my family. I don't want blue collar jobs for my familiy, so I do everything I can to support their foreign competition. Not only does that entail voting with my money, but it also involves posts like this and conversations to bring more people into my way of thinking. Lastly, I don't buy local, and love the local Walmart because no matter how much money I have, I have learned the value of a dollar (and a penny) and will save every penny I can for my family, even if it results in local shops failing while Walmart thrives. In short, I vote with my money, and vote in my interests. If everyone does the same, (votes in their interests) democracy will be served

  • Anon
    February 19, 2012 - 18:46

    Says the fella from seal cove right? Vote with your money. Buy local and grow your own food, hunt for your own food and live within your means.

  • Lydia
    February 18, 2012 - 11:31

    FURTHER TO MY PREVIOUS POST: Before long, we will have all kinds of fish farms supplying us with a relatively cheap and endless supply of fish. Well personally, I'm not a fan of farmed fish or of factory farms. I mourn the days when we produced and obtained our food in the ways nature intended.

    • Too Funny
      February 18, 2012 - 14:55

      "the ways nature intended", you mean hunt and fish and forage. The good old days of short lives.

    • Lydia
      February 18, 2012 - 16:56

      @TOO FUNNY: I'm not talking about going back to caveman days. I'm talking about wholesome, sensible farming practices - the way my grandparents used to farm. I'm talking about crops fertilized with properly dried out manure (as opposed to synthetic fertilizer). I'm talking about REAL food that isn't loaded to the hilt with artificial chemicals. I'm talking about meat that has been raised and slaughtered under humane conditions (not a priority these days). I'm talking about eggs that come from hens who are not confined to tiny, stacked cages where the hens don't have room to move and the dung from the birds on top drops down onto all the birds below until the bird at the very bottom has absolutely no feathers left because of the constant onslaught. My grandparents and most of their peers lived to ripe old ages, whereas a lot of the junk we eat these days is not conducive to good health.

    • Eli
      February 19, 2012 - 20:55

      LYDIA...I'm with you 100% on that. Atlantic salmon or Newfoundland cod fillets don't cut it with me either. It's "wild" or abstention in this household.

    • Lydia
      February 19, 2012 - 21:06

      FURTHERMORE: I'm also talking about non-genetically modified food as well as meat and poultry that hasn't been infused with growth hormones.

  • Lydia
    February 18, 2012 - 11:25

    I was with you right up until you mentioned "wheat." If you think farmers on the mainland are a priority with the federal government, you need to educate yourself. Thanks to decades of nasty government policies, family farms are, by and large, a thing of the past. Government is all about catering to large corporations -- i.e. the corporations that run factory farms and that have also decimated the fish popluations all over this planet.

  • sealcove
    February 18, 2012 - 08:24

    Get over yourself, you sound like a loser