The jet lag has passed and the Christmas decorations (for some of us at least) are put away in storage. With 2013 stretching out before us, let's reflect on the year that was 2012 in Canadian politics. The best and worst political stories, the best and worst politicians and the biggest sellout.
After the Nexen deal was approved, Prime Minister Stephen Harper framed this as the "end of a trend" not the "beginning" of a buyout frenzy by more sovereign-owned enterprises (SOEs). But this is not the end. This is the beginning of the beginning. Phone calls are already being made to launch new buyouts by foreigners here.
The way Harper made his decision on the new foreign ownership rules is dangerous and undemocratic. Canada has legislation, the Investment Canada Act, that sets out the process and requirements for foreign purchases. Strange that the deal that prompted him to develop the policy will be immune from the policy. Can he choose to ignore his own rules the next time?
The big prime ministerial deed done this Friday was Harper's much-awaited blessing of the sale of the Calgary-based Nexen oil sands corporation to the cuddly commies at the China National Offshore Oil Coporation. According to some, our government is evidently making major decisions about international commerce using no coherent human logic whatsoever.
China's track record in Canada is checkered, to say the least, and yet the China-Canada trade deal would open the floodgates to tens of thousands of sovereign enterprises then exempt them from Investment Canada scrutiny if they want to buy more.
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.
Last week, a casualty of China's unfair treatment of foreign investors spoke privately about the new trade deal signed between Ottawa and Beijing. Ottawa capitulated to China on everything. The deal, using a hockey metaphor, allows only a select few to play on Team Canada on a small patch of ice in China and to be fouled, without remedies or referees.
A couple months ago, the China National Offshore Oil Coporation announced that it would like to purchase Calgary oil firm Nexen. And the speculation began. If you're praying for a quick end to all this China intrigue, rest assured, you're not alone. But at least it keeps our minds off what's fast becoming one of the more depressing trends in Canadain politics: how the sudden resignation of Premier McGuinty seems to have triggered a mass exodus of his party's senior braintrust.
Sovereign-owned or controlled enterprises (SOEs) from questionable countries have no business in the boardrooms of Canada or other free enterprise nations. This concern about SOEs is not just about China. Russia is another questionable regime with companies investing here and all over the world that are owned by The Kremlin or by oligarchs who answer to it.
If the CNOOC/Nexen approval is given, before the Keystone pipeline is approved, a new set of questions for the Americans will be opened up. Letting China Inc. have special access could give President Obama a reason not to approve Keystone, and could also Romney, if he wins, a reason to consider not approving the line as he has pledged to do on Day One.
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China's growth, while enviable, is slowing. But power is opaque here, a problem in a globalized world, and the government controls information flow. It in the midst, like America, of a power struggle over who will run their nation. America is undertaking a noisy and disruptive election process while China is undergoing a power struggle behind closed doors as to who will run the superpower for the next 10 years.
The variations between Canadian and Australian politics and policies are as interesting as the fundamental similarities between them. Both are highly globalized, mixing multiculturalism with modified versions of the Westminster parliamentary system. Although in the past this nationalism has been directed toward the United States, it is now the question of Chinese access that has become the lightening rod of controversy.
The Chinese government has a deplorable human rights record, but that has not stopped Canada from doing business with China while standing up for our values. The mix of state-capitalism with Western capitalism is the way of the world today. And besides the investment from the Chinese in Canada will increase Canadian prosperity and will allow our industry to grow.
When we talk about foreign ownership of Canadian resources, it's nothing to do with economics or ideology. This is about street smarts. The foreign buyout of resource, infrastructure and agricultural corporations simply has to stop. Canada must state clearly that all of its resource-related and infrastructure assets and corporations must be Canadian-owned and controlled and that no single foreign entity can own more than 10 per cent, or we'll all regret it.
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.