11/21/2012 11:02 EST | Updated 11/21/2012 11:04 EST

Foreign Takeovers Poll Finds Canadians More Protectionist Than Americans


Canadians have more of a protectionist streak than their American counterparts, suggests a new Abacus data poll that looks at foreign investment in the resources sector.

In the poll released Tuesday, 63 per cent of Canadian respondents said that foreign companies or individuals shouldn’t be allowed to buy a Canadian resource company. That compares to 53 per cent of U.S. respondents who said foreign companies shouldn’t be allowed to buy U.S. resource companies.

The poll comes as the Harper government mulls a proposed $15.1-billion takeover of Alberta-based Nexen by the Chinese state oil company, CNOOC. It also comes several weeks after the government rejected a takeover of Progress Energy by Malaysian state oil giant Petronas. Petronas has re-submitted its bid to buy Progress.


The poll also found whether or not Canadians and Americans are receptive to a foreign takeover depends on the country doing the taking over. Canadians would be most receptive to a takeover by a Norwegian company, with 36 per cent saying yes. Twenty per cent would say yes to China, and only 12 per cent would agree to a foreign takeover originating in Russia.

Americans were more receptive to foreign takeovers — particularly by Canada, with 69 per cent support for a Canadian takeover. Russia was also the least popular among Americans, with 17 per cent support for a takeover.

The poll also found cynicism among both Canadians and Americans when it comes to free trade deals.

While a majority (64 per cent) of Canadians supported the Trans-Pacific trade partnership currently being negotiated between Canada and a dozen Pacific Rim countries, in theory Canadians felt that free trade deals benefit businesses far more than they do themselves personally. Eighty-one per cent said free trade benefited businesses, while only 24 per cent they benefited themselves and their families.

The poll’s results are slightly more favourable towards foreign takeovers than some earlier polls. An Angus-Reid survey last month found that 78 per cent of respondents opposed foreign companies controlling stakes in Canadian natural resources. The poll also found that 58 per cent want the government to reject the Nexen takeover.

Despite concerns about the deal, many in the business community, and a number of politicians, notably Justin Trudeau, have come out in favour of the CNOOC takeover.

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