Let’s just review the situation, shall we …
- First: Justin Trudeau opened a (one-sided) love affair with China, suggesting that a free(er) trade deal was imminent;
- Then: in late 2017 Team Trudeau was sent packing by the Chinese after it presented an ill-conceived bit of virtue signalling instead of concrete, business-like trade proposals;
- Next: the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, on a US warrant, led to the Chinese to instigate hostage-diplomacy by arresting two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, on trumped-up changes;
- Then: the new Chinese ambassador to Canada adopted a downright undiplomatic, bullying tone; and
- Now: Trudeau surrenders.
The Trudeau surrender is a decision to approve the China National Offshore Oil Company‘s (CNOOC) “proposal of a new offshore exploration drilling project set to begin in the Flemish Pass Basin — about 400 kilometres east of Newfoundland and Labrador.” The Flemish Pass Basin is found just slightly North-East of the existing Hebron, Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose oil drilling platform complexes.
What on earth are they thinking? Of course, “Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson established 101 legally binding conditions that the proponent, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, must follow for the entirety of the project.” Does anyone actually believe that any Chinese company will obey Canadian rules that are inconvenient or threaten its profits? Does anyone really believe that Justin Trudeau will stand up to Xi Jinping … ever?
For all that I know the CNOOC proposal is a good one that aims to do something that Canada needs to have done. I am, 100%, a proponent of increased Canadian oil production … everywhere in Canada. Five years ago I would have applauded this … but, five years ago, Xi Jinping had not, yet, turned into a complete bullying autocrat with life-long absolute power. That happened, mainly, in 2018. But, ever since the Meng affair (beginning 1 December 2018) China has been bullying Canada in every possible way and Canada has just taken it. In fairness to the Trudeau-Freeland-Champagne team, the Canada-China relationship is unbalanced. China actually wants a free(er) trade deal with Canada, but it doesn’t really need one. Many Canadian companies, and many prominent Liberals who work for them, on the other hand, are literally desperate for access to the HUGE Chinese market, in part because they want, equally desperately, to reduce Canada’s reliance on Donald Trump’s America. But that, Trump vs Xi, is a Hobson’s choice: we are a trading nation, even a modestly important one, but America, China and Europe are the great trading nations and we need them more than they need us. Canada has few choices at all, and they are all disadvantageous.
Maybe, I hope, people who are smarter than I, and there are a lot of them, in the Foreign Affairs or International Trade departments have some information that suggests that China might be willing to give us something in return, maybe a trade deal, maybe the release of our hostages. I have to hope that’s the case because absent that, all I can say is that Canada’s current policies on China are: