On December 7, Prime Minister Stephen Harper approved the first two complete takeovers of Canadian-owned energy firms by foreign state-owned companies in our country's history. The Prime Minister used sleight of hand to trick Canadians into thinking these were "exceptional" cases, to be repeated only cautiously in the future.
He appeared to close the door to ownership of the tar sands by companies controlled by foreign governments. But he didn't close it at all. He left it wide open and signaled to China, Malaysia and other countries that Canada's strategic energy resources were entirely for sale, not just to the highest bidder but to any bidder at all.
By December 10, The federal government is expected to make a decision on whether to approve or reject the takeover of Nexen by a Chinese state-run company. Any rearward decision-making process hinging on knee-jerk intercultural reactions, quick paydays or short-sighted goals is detrimental to our country as a whole.
When I first read that Chen Weidong, chief energy researcher at the CNOOC Energy Economics Institute, had likened the oilsands to "leftover single women," I'll admit I was mightily aggrieved. This is because, well, I resemble that remark. It was flat out offensive. And women, especially single women, are becoming a powerful force in society.
There might be perfectly legitimate reasons why Ottawa may decide to block the proposed acquisition of Nexen Inc. of Calgary by CNOOC Limited, the state owned energy giant from China.
But the notion that "foreigners are taking over Canada's natural resources" is not one of them.
That argument is factually and demonstrably false. Our governments own the vast majority of these natural resources. That isn't about to change any time soon. Canadians should be aware that there is no risk whatsoever that we would lose ownership or control of them.
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In a recent poll, 69 per cent of Canadians think the government should not approve the China's take-over of Calgary-based energy company Nexen. Doubtless, China needs energy sources. But it seems folly for a country like Canada to sell and loose control of a resource that is increasingly going to be needed in the future, and which will always have willing customers elsewhere.
MP David Kilgour and others have pointed out that the government has an obligation to prevent control of its resources being in the hands or another country. Cooperate, sure, if a deal is in Canada's interests, but to cede control to a regime like China's is not only folly, but verges on treason.
Senator Chuck Schumer wants the U.S. government's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to intervene to block the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) -- a state-owned firm -- from purchasing Nexen, a Canadian energy company active in the oil sands of Alberta. At first glance, it seems awfully presumptuous of the United States government to intervene at all.
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So, America's narcissistic, Europe's clueless, and Australia might as well be on another planet. China, on the other hand, likes us for who we are and wants to get to know us better -- plus, he seems to be very courteous and well-mannered.
Stephen Harper is aggressively selling Canada's tar sands and other energy and natural resources to China and willing to give it investor rights unavailable to Canadian firms operating domestically.
When Stephen Harper visits Chinese President Hu Jintao next month, he can rightfully argue that he is now fully engaged helping Beijing get the pipeline it's been after for quite some time, and that he's deploying his best bully-boy tactics to get it.
The only certain winner in the Keystone decision is China, which is now one step closer to being able to access Canadian oil at no cost to them. Stephen Harper will now use his visit to China in February to promote Canadian oil.
Whether we like it or not, this world runs on petroleum and petroleum-based products. Therefore, the question that needs to be asked: "How can our petroleum-based economy operate in an environmentally responsible way -- while costs to industry and consumers remain reasonable?"
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