Albertans guarded about Chinese investment in province's resources

A woman walks into the Nexen building in downtown Calgary, Alberta, in this July 23, 2012 file photo.

Credits: REUTERS/Todd Korol/Files


OTTAWA — Albertans are nervous about Chinese investment in the resource industry.

A survey for the University of Alberta's China Institute finds 64% of those asked are opposed to full Chinese ownership of Alberta companies.

Just over half of those surveyed disagree with investment in Alberta's energy sector by a state-owned Chinese company, such as CNOOC's proposed $15-billion takeover of Nexen.

Conservative Alberta MP Leon Benoit says his constituents have told him they're nervous about investments from state-owned enterprises, particularly from a communist dictatorship.

"They certainly have more concern about state ownership when it is from an undemocratic place," Benoit said Wednesday.

He says his constituents aren't "nearly as concerned" about investment by government-owned companies from France or Norway, though there is some concern about that too.

"I completely understand their concerns and actually support their concerns as does our government," he said before adding that he and his constituents support more trade with China.

So, how can Canada safely dance with the Chinese dragon eyeing resource industry investment?

"Very carefully," said Benoit.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says he can't comment on specific deals or even on the poll findings, but he's aware of people's concerns.

"This is a democracy and the government takes into account the opinion of Canadians," he said.

He also notes the Investment Canada Act includes guidelines specifically for state-owned enterprises.

The University of Alberta's population research lab conducted the survey of 1,210 people in July.

The survey is considered accurate to within 2.8%, 19 times out of 20.
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