Hey look: Hewers of wood, drawers of power

In Ottawa a few weeks ago, I ran into an old friend who used to work for the Chrétien Liberals. He’s in the private sector now. I was fresh back from China and I said one of the big surprises was the heavy resource orientation of the business delegation accompanying Stephen Harper — Oil, diamonds, gold, pork and lentils, not boutique software firms.

“Yeah,” said my interlocutor. “When I tried to figure out where the money is in Canada, I noticed the same thing. Really fast.” So I got to thinking.

Hence this week’s Maclean’s cover story. Written with Tamsin McMahon, with an assist from Alex Ballingall, it extends themes I’ve been exploring all year, beginning with the article about Ethical Oil’s ties to the government; continuing with the account of Harper’s China trip; continuing when I predicted the faultline for the next election will run through the oil patch.

The new piece attempts to show how changes in global trade patterns, especially the rise of a China that isn’t interested in much except raw commodities, is shifting money, population and power in Canada.