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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Canada sells the oil sands to China. Then complains about ‘foreign interference’

Canada sells the oil sands to China. Then complains about ‘foreign interference’.(NP).By Terry Glavin.If there were a global competition for the most brazen and preposterously transparent attempt by a ruling political party to change a necessary subject of national debate with alarmist distractions and hubbub, the Conservative escapade engineered in Ottawa these past few days really deserves some kind of grand prize.let’s review what’s really going on, shall we?
The $5.5-billion Enbridge pipeline project is all about sending Alberta bitumen in huge oil tankers to China. Beijing’s own state enterprises are among the project’s major backers, and Beijing has been buying up Alberta’s oilpatch at such a dizzying pace lately it’s hard to keep up.
  1. In the spring of 2010, China’s state-owned Sinopec Corp. took a $4.65-billion piece of Syncrude.
  2.  Then the China Investment Corporation, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party, took possession of a $1.25-billion share of Penn West Petroleum.
  3. Last summer, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation gobbled up Opti Canada for $2.34 billion. And so on.
  4. Then, last month, Sinopec spent $2.2-billion to take over Daylight Energy Ltd.,
  5.  and last week, Petro-China, with the final push of $1.9 billion, became the owner and manager of the MacKay River oilsands project. This is what Ottawa doesn’t want you noticing.
Until now, Beijing’s strategy has been to fly under the radar by taking only pieces of oil sands ventures and to murmur occasionally about bringing in Chinese workers or pulling up stakes altogether should they hear too much backchat. Now, everything’s changed. Sinopec’s Daylight deal was a first: it was a complete takeover of a Canadian oil sands company by a Chinese state corporation. The MacKay River deal was a first, too, but in a bigger way: when the McKay project is up and running in 2014 it will be a full Chinese show, with a boss that answers directly to Beijing. The thing is, nobody in Ottawa wants to have a serious conversation about any of this.During the 2008 election campaign, the vow to block the export of Canadian bitumen for processing offshore didn’t come from Leonardo DiCaprio in some underground command bunker of Hollywood eco-freaks. It was what the federal Conservative Party said. Back then, Ottawa’s very own Competition Policy Review made a series of recommendations about how to deal with takeovers of Canadian resources by foreign state-owned companies. Ottawa promptly ignored those recommendations. In last May’s federal election, the subject simply didn’t come up. And now it’s serious. Really serious.
It’s not just old-school Canadian nationalists who think so. Last April, a poll conducted for Canadian environmental groups found that 72.8 per cent of British Columbians were worried about China’s increasing command of Canada’s resources sector.
This isn’t just old Vancouver hippies worrying about the implications of 200-plus tankers taking oil out of Kitimat every year. Last summer, John Bruk, the Asia Pacific Foundation’s founding president, warned that Ottawa was ignoring the rapid emergence of Chinese government interests “in sheep’s clothing” taking over Canada’s natural resource industries. Bruk told B.C. Business magazine: “Are we jeopardizing prosperity for our children and grandchildren while putting at risk our economic independence? In my view, this is exactly what is happening.”As things have turned out, Bruk was more right than he knew.Read the full story here.

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