THE LIBERALS’ THREE GORGES MISTAKE

The absolutely massive Three Gorges Dam project in China has been underway, at least on the drawing board, since the 1950’s. Originally thought to run around $12 billion, the total cost is now closer to $100 billion. While this is of no particular concern to most of us, it perhaps should be. After all, some of that money has been graciously provided by the Chretien/Martin regime in Ottawa. That money, by the way, originated from the sweat and labor of working class Canadians. It was stolen from their paycheques by way of taxation. Just why are we giving money to a country that doesn’t respect human rights or the environment, the two alleged crowning jewels in the Liberal mantra?

The Three Gorges Dam project was originally thought to displace 1.1 million Chinese, a figure, because of population growth over the years of delays, that has swollen to 11.9 million. These citizens are not being re-located to better pastures, but are being moved into communities that are nowhere near their former villages, in quality or size. The amount of information that one can glean from ex-patriots and Chinese citizens who write from ‘safe zones’ is astounding. It is usually the exact opposite of official party statements, which of course are not really information packages, but merely propaganda.

One area, however, where China has been uncharacteristically forthright, is in the area of the dam’s finances. While using money from around the globe to build this behemoth, it seems that some party members have helped themselves to some of this massive influx of capital. I have seen figures starting at 2$57 million and ranging as high as 3$125 million dollars. As well, in 1999, the Ministry of Water was charged with misusing 4$365.8 million.

Add to the corruption the environmental disaster that is waiting to happen, and the human rights violations that are occurring to re-locate the almost 2 million peasants who don’t have a voice, or that are 5imprisoned should they speak out, and you have the main reason why so many banks, including the 6World Bank, have backed off of this project. That, however, has not deterred Canada. We are proudly draping our flag over this dam in the name of profits and international prestige.

Between 1988 and 1993, the Chretien Liberal’s berated Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government for entertaining the idea of supporting the project. Mr. Chretien went so far as to insist that the government pass legislation prohibiting any funding for the Three Gorges Dam. Then, in 1994, a year after coming to power himself, Mr. Chretien had a vision. It must have been something, because he did a complete 180 degree shift, and proceeded to fund a project which much of the rest of the world backed away from.

Now knowing what we know of the Chretien years, and the widespread corruption at home, one has to wonder what else was done. Why was there such a massive change in attitudes towards the China project? Was there money to be made on our soil, by our officials?

The Economic Development Bank of Canada, or EDC, has guaranteed loans worth $189 million. While most foreign governments would not get on board, Canada quickly and foolishly joined the “Race To the Bottom”, as this project has been dubbed by many. With cost overruns, and cheaper more efficient energy sources now available, analysts in the energy sector say that China will be unable to sell the power that is generated for the simple reason it will cost only a third to generate power by other means, leaving the Chinese Three Gorges Dam power unsellable. That, in turn, will pretty much nullify the chances of Canadians ever seeing a return on the poor decision to guarantee these loans.

While bureaucrats will point out that the loan guarantees helped Canadian manufacturers sell technology to China, I say that if this is the wisdom that is being used, then we can’t afford to do business with the Chinese.

One thing I’ll say for the Liberals. They reward their cronies, no matter how big or bad the decision is. Now that’s loyalty. Too bad it isn’t directed towards their fellow Canadians.

Sources:

1 International Rivers Network, url— http://www.irn.org/programs/threeg/
2 BBC url— http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/613300.stm
3 EXN.ca url— http://exn.ca/Stories/2000/05/16/51.asp
4 BBC url— http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/613300.stm
5 Probe International url— http://www.probeinternational.org/pi/3g/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=3990
6 Probe International url— http://www.probeinternational.org/pi/3g/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=3990