Memo says Stephen Harper personally asked China for panda loan
Everyone loves pandas—but not everyone can personally requisition one of the endangered creatures from China.
Well, unless you're Stephen Harper.
As Toronto gets ready to play host to giant pandas Er Shun and Da Mao for the next five years, a recently released memo suggested this extended sleepover would not have occurred without Harper's intervention into the situation.
According to the document dated October 25, 2011, “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".
While the deal for the pandas was already in place when the memo was originally circulated, the announcement of the loan was delayed until Harper's February 2012 state visit to China at the behest of the Chinese government.
The pandas are due in Toronto on March 25 and will make their public debut in May after a quarantine period.
After their five-year residency at the Toronto Zoo, the pair of evolutionarily irresponsible critters will be shipped off to Calgary to be gawked at for another five years.
While the memo makes it clear that the loan of the animals was struck between China and the zoos themselves, it acknowledges that this panda pact would not have occurred without "the support of all relevant levels of government".
For the privilege of babysitting Harper's pandas in Harper's Canada, the zoos have collectively shelled out $10 million.
I really want to be snarkier about all this panda-monium, but… look how freakin' cute that damn panda is!