Of Pandas and Politics

Stephen Harper returned from China.  Off all that happened, there is more talk about the panda loan than anything else.  I am intrigued by this.  At first, I thought this is a goodwill gesture by Chinese.  No, like everything else, this is business and a very very bad business deal for Canada, in particular for the city of Toronto.

Apparently, China has been in this business of ‘loaning’ pandas for centuries.  The loan comes with a payment, a huge one at it.  Each panda loaned is a million dollars.  And, if during that loan period the girl panda forgot to take the birth control pill, the offspring will belong to China (yet, the medical bills will have to be paid by the loaning country).   International laws do not apply when you do business with china. Apple has finally heeded and initiated an inquiry on labour conditions in Foxconn factories.  But this illegal trade (loan can be classified as a trade, I guess) is by the chinese premier of an endangered species and there is no stopping of China here, I guess.

It is no secret that Harper hates Toronto.  He is promptly consigning those loaned pandas to the Toronto Zoo.  The claim is that this will be a greater attraction in the zoo and will increase awareness of china among the zoo visitors.  From what I heard from an anonymous worker of Toronto Zoo in a local talk radio, they are gearing themselves for a nightmare.  The zoo has to be re-zoned for pandas and the resources have to be reallocated. The problem is Toronto Zoo is already is under severe financial loss and this is most certainly going to break their back.  Mayor Rob Ford (who is ruthlessly against anything that carries ‘public’ in its name – workers, libraries, schools, parks, transit) is cutting the zoo budget in millions.

There are claims that the pandas will be a major attraction and will increase the zoo revenue.  The anonymous zoo employee differs in opinion.  There may be initial increase in visitors due to publicity, but soon it will fade.  Her estimate is that within the first two years the popularity will  decline and then the zoo will be left with these giant cash guzzlers that could potentially break the entire zoo.

Stephen Harper, by the way, is yet to pay for the bills for policing during G20.  He unilaterally thrust G20 upon Toronto which ended as a diaster and now again he is dumping what the Chinese have sold him on Toronto.

If he were really smart, he might have negotiated a reciprocal loan of killer whales from the pacific cost to Beijing aquarium.  That is the size appropriate for the kind heart of us, canadians.  And he should have sent these pandas to his home town of calgary which is flush with cash and Harper’s munificence.

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