As per usual with this secretive Harper government, they announced Cnooc’s – China’s state-owned oil company – takeover of Canadian fossil fuel company Nexen at 5 p.m. on a Friday, a time they hoped nobody would be paying attention.
Further, this takeover is occurring concurrently with the equally secretive FIPA process (China-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement) process.
Like other trade agreements, FIPA would allow Chinese companies to sue Canadian governments in more secretive tribunals if they do anything to counter their interests.
Because of NAFTA, for example, Quebec is being sued for placing a temporary moratorium on fracking. Fracking is an extremely environmentally destructive method for harvesting natural gas. Quebec made a prudent, precautionary decision with regards to a potentially dangerous and currently under-studied practice in light of the growing body of research pointing to its negative consequences. Some claim that when natural gas – a supposedly “clean” energy source – is extracted by fracking, it is potentially as dirty as coal.
Often these agreements increase the comparative advantage of one country over another, rather than equally benefiting both sides. Thus, great care and public consultation is required, especially in a democratic country like Canada.
Alternatively, Harper seems intent on getting the oil out as fast as possible by ramming through this and other legislation in a secretive manner, regressing our environmental policy to the 1970s, in a fashion that instills little confidence that the interests of Canada, or the world as a whole, are being served.