China can’t buy Albertans’ love

New poll suggests the province’s residents are cooling to Beijing, despite all that cash spent in the oil patch

by Charlie Gillis

Photograph by Jeff McIntosh/CP

China’s thirst for oil is Alberta’s insurance policy—a guarantee of investment and jobs amid economic turmoil in the U.S. and Europe. Small wonder, then, that Albertans have been reliably sanguine when it comes to forging close economic ties with China. More sanguine, at least, than other Canadians.

That might be changing.

In an Alberta-only poll released today, 64 per cent of respondents said they disapproved of Chinese investment in the province if it took the form of full ownership of assets; a lukewarm 37 per cent said they found partial ownership acceptable. That’s a sharp break from one year ago, when a healthy majority agreed with the proposition that they should welcome Chinese investment.

The survey was commissioned by the University of Alberta’s China Institute, which has emerged as a valuable source of insight into Canada’s hot-and-cold relationship with Beijing.

The results come as Chinese companies buy up fat swaths of the oil patch—before state-controlled oil giant CNOOC made its $15.1-billion bid for Calgary based Nexen Inc. but after Sinopec’s $2.1-billion purchase of Calgary-based Daylight Energy Ltd. and PetroChina’s acquisition last fall of Athabasca Oil Sands Corp.—a deal that gave China its first full ownership of an oil sands project.

Since then, Albertans have had a sneak preview of the future that proponents of closer trade ties with China, and the reviews have been less than glowing. Last June, a Sinopec subsidiary operating near Fort McMurray, Alta. topped the province’s list of “dead-beat” employers who haven’t been paying their workers. The same company faced charges over the deaths of two workers flown to one of its sites in 2007.

There’s also discernible anxiety over the sheer pace of Chinese acquisition—a sense that the familiar troika of Canadian, U.S. and European interests that have developed the oil patch for decades could suddenly give way to state-run entities that answer first to Beijing.

Finally, Albertans seem worried about what happens to Canada and its values when China becomes the world’s premier power: more than half of those polled agreed with the statement that “China’s growing economic strength poses a threat to Canada.” Fully 71 per cent said Alberta should take human rights into consideration when conducting business in China.

So much for Albertans putting their own interests first.

Yes, it’s just one province. But the shift in attitude is important, says Gordon Houlden, the China Institute’s director, because it will feed into the Harper government’s calculations on whether to allow deals like the CNOOC-Nexen purchase. ”There’s a clear sense in Alberta that these are Albertan resources and Albertans should have the primary say in how their exploited,” he says, “and there are still consultations with the provinces on individual decisions.”

Houlden points to the 2010 rejection of a proposed takeover of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan by Australian interests an example of how regional attitudes can influence federal decisions: “I believe provincial opinion in that case was important.”

That’s not to say Albertans won’t warm again to Chinese money. Forty-seven per cent of those surveyed regard China as a stable trading partner, more than twice the proportion who don’t.

But the results expose a very real ambivalence underlying all the cheerleading for open trade with China. To paraphrase a certain prime minister, Canadians seem disinclined to sell out their values to the almighty dollar.




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China can’t buy Albertans’ love

  1. Hah! Don’t feel bad, China. Alberta doesn’t like Ontarians…or BCers….or Saskatchewanians and Manitobans.

    In fact….they even argue with themselves in the mirror each morning!

    Just ignore them…they can’t go west, south or east…and the north doesn’t need em.

    Sooner or later they’ll get a grip…probably not until after it’s too late….but hey….

    • Albertans like Saskatchewan now that the socialists are out of power, and they can return home to the old country. That is after all, where a lot of Albertans came from, aside from the Maritimes.

      • Time to leave the old country behind, along with the mentality.

    • Don’t feel bad, Albertans. EmilyOne doesn’t like anyone but herself.

      Just ignore her, it is too late for her to get a grip. Have to wait this troll out…

      • Albertans have a whine and cheese party on here every day….get real touchy when someone smacks em back I’ve noticed. LOL

        • That may or may not be the case, but what is certain is that you have positioned yourself as the resident troll of Macleans.ca with your idiotic comments and relentless baiting.

          • You don’t even know what the word means…..you’re simply trying a red herring to change the topic.

          • I am unable to see a red herring in my comments. In fact it is your reply to my first comment which is a red hearing, a sad attempt to place the blame for your baiting on the supposed self pity of Albertans.

            Lets see, your original comment is at best only tangentially related to the title of this article. It contains no insight to the story at hand, nor does it lead to an interest discussion of the story. Your comment is a textbook example of baiting. You have exhibited this baiting behavior multiple times across countless stories on this site. Baiting the is the modus operandi of a troll. Hence you are a troll.

            I stand by my comments, you are the resident troll of Macleans.ca.

          • I repeat….you have no clue what a troll is…..in fact trolling is what you’re currently doing.

            And again, you are trying to divert attention from the topic….which is that Albertans don’t like Chinese…..or as I said, anyone. in fact.

          • You do realize that this article is not about Albertans not liking the Chinese. It is about the anxiety over the growing influence of Chinese business in Alberta. Perhaps you should try reading more than the title of an article before you decide to score some cheap shots.

            Repeating non-arguments is another trait that trolls exhibit. The behavior you have exhibited (baiting, attempting deflections, attempting derailing of conversations, flaming, etc) is consistent with that of a troll. Though for arguments sake, perhaps you can give me your definition of a troll.

          • I realize you’re still trying to waste my time. Sorry, I don’t play games. This is an adult site.

          • Nice try at a deflection.

            What you are conceding is that the best you can do is call me a child, which is ironic considering your behavior. You have yet to say anything of substance.

          • Sorry, I should have been clearer….I’m saying goodbye to one. LOL

            Ciao

          • Clarity is not the issue, your trolling and childish behavior is the issue.

    • I’m an Albertan
      I like folk from all those places.
      I am not to fond of folk from those places and Alberta .too.
      Good people and jackasses are not limited by geography just attitude.

      • I know….it just seems there’s a whole pile of ‘tude in Alberta these days.

        • And a kind of inverse “pile of ‘tude” elsewhere in Canada at times too.
          We all benefit from stuff that happens in Alberta, but we kind of feel dirty about benefiting from such nasty behaviour too. It requires a kind of dissonance to be upset at the means and receptive to the ends at the same time and yet that’s people for you.

          • Albertans were very friendly when I lived there….but after I had moved away we got the ‘freeze in the dark’ thing….and it just went downhill from there.

            Ontario hasn’t done anything to them…..but there are constant attacks on this province, it’s finances, leaders, jobs, people……

            Return fire ….even a little bit…..and they do this whole frenzy thing.

          • They’re still very friendly, with the usual exceptions that occur everywhere.

            And I believe that most folk tend to go on the offence when they feel that someone is after them, hence the TO cops charging folk with obstruction or resisting arrest whenever they mess up. As for attacks I believe that there are enough Easterners in the CPoC to attack the East for their exploitation of Alberta’s resources. Heck the Eastern politicians are just as happy to abuse Alberta as the Chinese are. I believe that some of us out West are upset with Eastern carpet baggers who are happy to let us catch the flaK while they create the reality that exploits us.

          • Hooo boy,,,,yup, you’re definitely an Albertan

            “As for attacks I believe that there are enough Easterners in the CPoC to
            attack the East for their exploitation of Alberta’s resources. Heck the

            Eastern politicians are just as happy to abuse Alberta as the Chinese
            are. I believe that some of us out West are upset with Eastern carpet
            baggers who are happy to let us catch the flaK while they create the
            reality that exploits us.”

            Nobody is exploiting or abusing you….and continued talk about ‘carpet baggers’ is going to get you left alone by everybody.

          • Really, so our soil isn’t being “soiled”, our waterways aren’t being polluted, our fish aren’t being mutated? Our resources aren’t being sold at rock bottom prices to prop up the current government?
            Harper’s ministers aren’t primarily eastern based?
            Alberta isn’t funneling money into Eastern Canada at a disproportionate rate?
            ‘kay.. as things aren’t really happening, you’re right we’re just whining.

          • Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes aren’t doing any of that. Americans own your oil….we don’t, so talk to them.

            Albertans are the main ones electing Harper and crew….Ontario already went through this mess with Diamond Jim….Albertans seem to think they’re wonderful though

            As to equalization payments, Ontario has complained about them for years…..and were ignored. We’ve supported every province in the country over that time, including Alberta, and now that we can claim a bit of a rebate….suddenly Alberta is screaming about it.

            PEI makes out better than anybody on finances, go pick on them. LOL

          • Multi-nationals own our oil. They are traded on the stock exchange in Alberta, oh no sorry, that would be Toronto. More money than equalisation payments goes east because of the Tar Sands.
            And it is the driving forces behind these financial interests that are forcing Canadian assets in Alberta to be sold to the nastiest regimes in the world at rock bottom prices. They might have offices here, but these paragons of the financial world live in the East.

          • “A multinational corporation (MNC) or multinational enterprise (MNE)[1] is a corporation enterprise that manages production or delivers services in more than one country. It can also be referred to as an international corporation. They play an important role in globalization. The first multinational corporation was the Dutch East India Company, founded March 20, 1602″

            Mostly it’s American ownership in Alberta. It doesn’t matter where they are traded….Toronto, London, Tokyo…..

            You wanna own some….buy some shares.

            Stop seeing conspiracies where none exist.

          • Nice handwaving with the history there.

            I guess it doesn’t matter as long as you get the dividends and others get the pollution. Payouts in TO; mutated fish in the Athabasca.

            No conspiracy Emily just highlighting the eastern hypocrisy on this. The wealth goes elsewhere, while the problems remain here. Unless the pension plans who trade on the TSX etc are willing to cover the clean up?

          • Yes, the money goes elsewhere, and the pollution does as well. Damage to the landscape remains in Alberta.

            However, it’s mostly Americans who own the place….and it has zik-all to do with Ontario. We import much of our oil from overseas.

            Don’t blame others for the problems you caused.

          • Actually the problems Eastern Politicians are keen on exacerbating

          • Albertans believe in a lot of myths….one of them is that Ontarians wake up every morning wondering what else they can do to screw Albertans.

            Flash….Ontarians don’t think about Albertans at all……………… for days, weeks, months…years on end.

          • Your the one equating Ontarians with Eastern politicians. Honestly your dishonesty in dialogue is staggering.

            Harper’s cabinet is predominantly Eastern and they are sacrificing Alberta on the altar of globalist capitalism, party gain and short term profit. Maybe the chattering classes in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces don’t think about how their fellow Canadians and their waterways and lands are being sacrificed for political gain, but those you elect certainly do.

            Maybe now you’ll all think about how you cast your vote in future, or maybe you’ll go on living blissfully in ignorance electing puppets who’ll destroy this part of the world because they are told to do so.

          • LOL I’m not being dishonest, you’re simply confused.

            Harper’s cabinet is predominantly western….although some of those westerners came from Ontario…but hey, you elected them.

            Most people in Ont never think about Alberta….no reason to.

            I always think about how I vote….and I never vote for rightwing crazies….that would be people like you who believe in conspircies out to get them

          • So even if they are from the East, they’re from the West? If they represent Eastern ridings then they are still elected by Albertans? And although the cabinet is in fact mostly eastern based it is predominantly Western? Life in your “up is really down” and “black is really white” world must be truly interesting. Reality must be a painful place for you where the facts are what you say they are but never match up with the actuality.

            You clearly never read any of my comments, or at least never understood them if you came away with the idea I’m a right wing crazy. Your predisposition towards inventing reality makes you closer to them than you would probably care to realise.

          • a) Ont and Que are central Canada….the Maritimes are ‘east’

            b) Harper and your previous leader, Stockwell Day are from Ont. Ont leaders, leading Albertan munchkins.

            c) I’m sure you think of yourself as anything other than right-wing crazy….but that doesn’t change reality.

          • Ah just a troll

          • The usual Albertan Excuse-Of-Last-Resort.

          • Not really, just a realisation that you are someone who lives in her own little world and values getting her insult across rather than partaking in a reasonable discussion.
            Just a sad little troll who never has to back up her prejudice with actual evidence.

          • Yeah, really. Down to the excuses and names. It seems to be an Albertan ritual.

  2. Albertans are greedy people. Redford says the coast of BC belongs to Canadians. But the tar oil belongs to Alberta. What a lady!

  3. China is the disliked by all other asian countries. Partly this is because of the ‘Han superiority complex’– the Han race being the majority of people in China. In other words they are racist and look down upon everyone else. The other reason that the Chinese are disliked in asia is because Chinese people immigrate to other countries and –in practical terms– create colonies that either try to take over the country or influence it heavily in their favour. Look at how they caused Singapore to secede from Indonesia or how the Chinese control much of the Philippines.

    I mention this situation in asia because this is already beginning to happen here and will probably continue. I would say that if people dislike China it may be just good sense and normal self interest rather than racism.

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