Attempts to strike a deal on pandas have been floated for more than a decade, but only began to progress quickly when Prime Minister Harper personally raised the matter with Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the National People’s Congress, in Beijing in December 2009, and former Minister Prentice signed a letter of support on behalf of the Government of Canada.
Hey so remember how ridiculous it seemed when Flaherty was calling up banks and haranguing them about mortgage rates? Turns out he’s got nothing on Harper and Prentice who called up the Chinese government and asked for pandas. And then the government tried to artfully redact the correspondence when the media asked for copies, in order to maximize the political impact of the pandas. but now the Information Commissioner has ruled that they can’t do that, so we get the whole story of what happened.
Anyway we’re now paying the Chinese government tens of millions of dollars and giving them photo ops with high-ranking Canadian elected officials for the privilege of taking care of some of their pandas for a couple years. Apologies to all that Canadian wildlife that isn’t getting protection due to chronic underfunding at Environment Canada, but you know how it is.
I don’t have the time to do this – I just looked at a few, and got sick – but really: read the redacted/non-redacted documents against one another. Then, have open Canada’s Access to Information Act and see how various sections of the act are used to redact elements of the document.
And then get upset at how redaction-happy the government is, and how they justify the initial round of redactions. Also: realize what a big deal that so much goes through Cabinet and Ministers these days: It gives wide berth to using S. 21 of the Act, which often limits information associated with senior members of government (effectively) communicating with one another, or being mentioned as having communicated with one another.