On September 9th, Stephen Harper signed the Canada-China Investment Treaty. It is arguably the biggest trade deal Canada has entered since NAFTA. The Canada-China Investment Treaty gives Chinese government owned companies full access to Canadas resources, will bind Canada for at least 16 years and should obviously be carefully analyzed and debated in Parliament.
The Harper Conservatives though almost dictatorially tabled the treaty to the House of Commons on Sept 26, set it for automatic approval on Oct 31st, and wont allow any debate or vote to take place amongst our elected representatives.
Chinese state owned companies have already bought $13 billion of the oil sands (huge chunks of Syncrude, Penn West Petroleum, Opti Canada, Daylight Energy Ltd., and the MacKay River oilsands project.) The Chinese government holds $1.3 trillion in US T-bills (debt) so you can multiply these takeovers by 1,000 -- which wouldnt leave much left of Canada. Soon most of us could be working directly for the Chinese government.
During the 2008 election, the Harper Conservatives vowed to block the export of Canadian bitumen for processing offshore. Obviously if companies refine bitumen in Alberta and pipe high quality oil directly, they eliminate a second pipeline and huge amounts of wasted energy piping and shipping condensate and bitumen mud, cut the spill risk in half and make more money here in Canada by selling superior refined oil products.
Who wouldn't take a simple step to save more money, make more money, and cut the environmental risk in half? Chinese state owned CNOOC or Sinopec or other Chinese stakeholders. Makes sense -- they want more money for China and probably don't care much about environmental damage in Canada.
State owned companies are playing by a different set of rules with potentially unlimited financing and staying power -- definitely something that should be thoroughly debated and analyzed in Parliament. Thats what these guys are elected to do and to by-pass that process is dubious at best.
Even if it is a great deal for Canada, Harper should have a full legislative review of the Canada-China Investment Treaty.