"China has been Canada’s fastest-growing trade partner for a decade; although it still takes only 3.7 per cent of our exports, it represents 11 per cent of our imports."
Stephen Harper has been adamant about playing by his rules for the entirety of his run as Prime Minister. It was only when he saw longer-term benefit for himself that he considered partnering with others (like the NDP and Bloc in bringing down Martin). He has backtracked when his manipulative management-style has backfired, but only under duress.
For the majority of the time, when he doesn't get his way he pulls his toys out of the sandbox, to his (and our) detriment.
His cooling and now warming to China is a great example of this. Harper tried to smudge out the connective work of his predecessors because it suited his personality to do so; now, having stormed out on Obama over oil pipelines, he's mending fences with Asian neighbours, rebuilding relationships first established by Liberals (only Trudeau could go to China). That's got to sting.
There's another thing happening here, though - Harper's narrow focus is blinding him to broader opportunities, leading him to dismiss approaches he hasn't tailored himself. The trade stats above are case in point.
China exports more to us than we do to them, by a wide margin. Check your labels for what's bought in China to see that in practice. Yet, seeing how lucrative the sale of products is, Harper still insists natural resources are the only way to go. Canadians are still BUYING stuff; we're simply buying at greater cost the finished goods made with our raw material elsewhere.
When we start importing bottled Canadian Spring Water, I hope Harper - or at least Canadians - will see the folly of this limited approach.