Saturday, February 04, 2012

"We're sitting ducks."

Here's a question Ottawa doesn't want anybody asking: Just what legally constitutes a foreign activity in Canada that is detrimental to this country's national security interests? If you ask around Ottawa these days, nobody knows quite what to say anymore. It's been that way since September, 2009. And that's why Beijing now gets to decide where our oil goes.

My account of how we ended up in this odd predicament is in today's Ottawa Citizen. Defenceless: Canada has no idea what foreign activity is detrimental to its national security interests, much less how to stop it.

Coming soon, if circumstances allow: How an under-the-radar transaction at a little-known oil company on Georgia Street in Vancouver gave Beijing control over Syria's Oudeh, Tishrine and Sheik Mansour oildfields, and the privileged and profitable place it now occupies as the financier of Bashar al-Assad's merciless and unceasing slaughter of the Syrian people. Directly related, today: Russia, China, veto UN resolution telling Assad to quit. Gee. Big surprise.

Funny thing about vetos. They can be bought real cheap. While everybody's jaws were dropping when Beijing's Sinopec paid $4.6 billion for a mere nine per cent stake in Canada's oilsands giant Syncrude in April, 2010, the deal was in fact a back-alley bargain, because it came with a veto.

The minority Syncrude stake gave Sinopec a veto over whether the jobs and investment benefits of upgrading and refining Syncrude's vast bitumen resources would be kept in Canada and put to the purpose of meeting Canada's oil needs, or shipped offshore, to Being's benefit. Right after the Syncrude deal, Sinopec revealed that it was partnering on Enbridge Inc.'s proposed $6 billion, 1,000-kilometre bitumen tube from Alberta to saltwater at Kitimat. Gee. Big surprise.

What does Canada say about the Chinese-Russian blockade at the UN Security Council? “Today's failure by the UN Security Council to effectively deal with the crisis in Syria is yet another free pass for the illegitimate Assad regime and those backing it," says Foreign Minister John Baird. And who are "those backing" the regime? Most notably Sinopec's SIPC-Syria, that's who.

"History will judge those whose obstruction serves only to prolong this senseless violence," said Baird. Quite right, minister. One day there will be a reckoning, and inshallah that day will be very soon. Syria's revolutionary councils will not soon forget who was content to prolong the sufferings of the Syrian people, and who it was that was happy to give out free passes to those who backed the regime.

On CBC's The House program today, Evan Solomon has economist Robyn Allen walk listeners through the very same developments, in the same order, that I have been setting out in the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post over the past three weeks (it is gratifying to see how many other people are now taking up these questions). Then Solomon talks to Industry Minister Joe Oliver, who has been saddled by the federal cabinet with the unenviable task of trying to defend the transparently indefensible. Joe is not a wicked man and I take no pleasure in knowing that if he was reading the Ottawa Citizen at breakfast this morning the experience will not have left him with a sunny disposition. It certainly won't make his job any easier from here on in.

Last week on CBC's As It Happens I was asked a number of questions about these rapid-succession oilpatch and cabinet committee manoeuvres and I did my best to answer them. I still have far more questions than answers. But it doesn't matter what I think. After everything that's happened, the terrible question to which Canadians have not even begun to formulate an answer, nine minutes in: Who's your daddy?

2 Comments:

Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Meanwhile Chekists and ChiComs together:

“Russia and China veto resolution on Syria at UN”

Mark
Ottawa

12:29 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks Terry for the outspoken courage to challenge the endgame liquidation of our planet's finite resources by the current consensus, aka kleptocracy.

8:19 PM  

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