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Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a toast with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao following a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on  Dec. 3, 2009. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a toast with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao following a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on  Dec. 3, 2009.

(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Politics Today: Why Canada only has eyes for China Add to ...

Politics Today is your daily guide to some of the stories we’re watching in Ottawa and across Canada, by The Globe and Mail’s team of political reporters.

Another reason Canada has eyes only for China

Need any more evidence of just how important Asia is to Canada’s economy? In a milestone no doubt dripping in symbolism, China has overtaken Britain as Canada’s No. 2 trading partner. Trade between the two countries has nearly doubled in the last five years. “It was just a question of time,” one analyst said.

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What Canadians want to celebrate

Ottawa spent $30-million last year celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, but a new poll finds Canadians just weren’t that into it. Pollster Nik Nanos points out the geography: Ontario, where most of the war’s action took place, registered the most enthusiasm for it, but the pre-Confederation battles aren’t that relevant to other Canadians across the country. Respondents were much more interested in observing the anniversaries of women’s suffrage or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

What’s up with those expenses?

While auditors are looking into some senators’ expenses, we prepared a two-minute animated video explaining the issues at stake. And hey – if you liked it, let us know what current topics you’d like to see explained.

Don’t dive off that bitumen cliff

It’s not a bitumen bubble, and it’s not a fiscal cliff – Canada is heading toward a bitumen cliff, according to a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The left-leaning think tank says Canada is relying too heavily on an environmentally demanding resource that, because of the difficulty in getting it to markets, is economically unstable. Fraught political ground, to be sure.

Quebec saves on oil

Meanwhile, National Bank Financial projects that Quebec could save up to $3-billion by making use of oil from within Canada, and not importing it from Europe or North Africa. There are currently two proposed projects to bring oil to Quebec (or farther east): a reversal of a pipeline to take it from Sarnia, and a new pipeline to carry Alberta crude east. While the province would save money, though, most Quebeckers probably wouldn’t notice a difference at the pumps.

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