Well, try that on for size. Let me be clear, says Stephen Harper: “Canadians have not spent years reducing the ownership of sectors of the economy by our own governments, only to see them bought and controlled by foreign governments instead. It is not an outcome any responsible government of Canada could ever allow to happen.”
That’s not a statement Harper made months ago that I’m dredging up to demonstrate Harper’s hypocrisy. That’s apparently a statement he made Friday, the very same day he approved not only a foreign communist dictatorship’s takeover of Nexen, but also, slightly less worrying but equally hypocritically, a foreign fragile democracy’s takeover of Progress Energy. I guess I don’t need to put the case any more plainly than Stephen the First himself did. The Harper government is, by its own admission, not a responsible government.
Then, there’s the ridiculous hypocrisy of implying that we’ll approve this major sale in the oilsands, but we wouldn’t approve another one. How could we approve another one? There aren’t many large Canadian players left in the oil sands. It’s too late to worry about letting the sector get taken over by foreign interests. Unless they want to go after Syncrude or Suncor next, the Chinese will have a hard time finding a major Canadian oil producer left to buy. If you doubt me, cast an eye down the “Canadian” Association of Petroleum Producers’ list of members. There’s a half-dozen governments on that list now. Our government isn’t one of them. We’re literally seeing the nationalization of Canada’s oil sands . . . except not by Canada.
In a tragically ironic sense, this actually gives Canada the opportunity to start thinking about LAO — Life After the Oilsands. We have no choice. Except for the few residents of Alberta who will still be allowed to work in the region once Chinese temporary workers take over the joint over the next 10-20 years, there won’t be much more money left to be made in oil. It’s not the first huge resource that this country’s government has catastrophically mismanaged, but we’ve blundered along so far because we’re big and there was always another mega-resource left to mismanage. Sooner or later we’re going to run out of new opportunities, though. If we haven’t already.
More to the point, though, I think people are getting the wrong idea about these new guidelines. The media is implying that the guidelines somehow mean there won’t be any more CNOOC/Nexen-style takeovers. In fact, Harper even said so himself: “Foreign state control of oilsands development has reached a point at which further state control would not be of net benefit to Canada.” But I defy anyone to find anything in the new guidelines, helpfully made available by the National Post, that actually bars more takeovers by foreign dictatorships. It just isn’t in there. So we’re left to hope that prime ministerial whim will reflect the will of the Canadian majority, which, in the fire sale of Nexen, it clearly does not.
One statement in particular struck my eye as being especially silly in the new “policy.” The following lists several ways in which the Canadian government is reserving the right to require foreign governments to meet certain performance requirements before the next Nexen-style takeover will be approved:
The appointment of Canadians as independent directors on the board of directors, the employment of Canadians in senior management positions, the incorporation of the business in Canada, and the listing of shares of the acquiring company or the Canadian business being acquired on a Canadian stock exchange.
Oh. That’s important to you, is it? Reserving senior management spaces for Canadians? The pro-China fifth columnists in the Prime Minister’s Office didn’t seem to think that was very important earlier this year, when they traded away exactly that power in the Canada-China foreign investment agreement:
7.1. A Contracting Party may not require that an enterprise of that Party… appoint individuals of any particular nationality to senior management positions.
I believe that we may be at the beginning of a major transition in which Canada passes from the American sphere of orbit and enters the Chinese one. I realize it sounds ridiculous, given our shared border and all, but Canada has changed its allegiance before — from France to Britain to America — and the Americans don’t seem terribly bothered yet by the Chinese acquisition of Canada. We’d better hope it’s a smooth transfer of power. The alternative is to end up like Poland, circa 1939.