China’s place in the oilpatch is too complicated for simple answers – by Deborah Coyne (National Post – November 23, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Deborah Coyne is a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

It may be tempting to look for simple answers to the $15.1 billion Chinese takeover of Canadian oil sands company, Nexen. It would be simple to just say we’re open for business and that it’s a good deal, as my fellow candidate Justin Trudeau has done. But this issue is too complicated for simple answers, and leadership in crucial areas of public policy is never quite so black and white.

While this deal may seem of little significance on the surface — it will result in only a three per cent overall stake in the oil sands and provide a relatively small cash injection into an industry that will require literally hundreds of billions of dollars to develop over the next few decades – it will set the template for foreign acquisitions in the Canadian resource sector for decades to come. We’ve got to do the heavy lifting and get this right.

There has been a glaring lack of leadership this issue. We must establish, both for Canadians and our trade and investment partners, a clear long-term strategy for protecting and promoting the Canadian national interest in the development of our valuable and abundant natural resources.

First, we must clearly define the national interest. Our natural resources are a source of valuable leverage with our trade and investment partners. We should not settle for the quick dollar, but should take our time to ensure that development moves forward at a sustainable pace, respecting the intergenerational and environmental values that benefit ordinary Canadians with jobs, not just people with wealth.

We should require natural resource development to proceed at a pace consistent with respect for the highest scientific and environmental standards. While many energy companies active in Canada are still adjusting to operating within this longer-term perspective, there should be little doubt that Chinese state-owned enterprises will not.

For the rest of this column, please go to the National Post website: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/11/22/deborah-coyne-chinas-place-in-the-oilpatch-is-too-complicated-for-simple-answers/

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