New Rules For Foreign Ownership Of Canadian Companies

Remy Steinegger
Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. Image: Remy Steinegger

Recently Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, has been facing a lot of questions about how other countries invest in Canada.

A Chinese company made a bid to buy a Canadian oil and gas company.

The bid had to be approved by the Canadian government. This was an important decision for Canada because it would be another country owning a major Canadian resource company and Canadians are protective of the country’s natural resources.

The Chinese offered $15.1 billion to buy Nexen Inc., a company based in Calgary. Prime Minister Harper approved the deal.

Trying to get other countries to invest or spend their money in Canada is part of Harper’s job. He feels that more business deals from around the world will help build Canada’s wealth.

But even though Harper allowed the Chinese deal, he announced new rules for future deals.

From now on, bids for resource companies from state-owned or country-owned companies outside Canada will only be approved in exceptional circumstances.

He meant that such deals would only be allowed after a special study of how that other country would act if they took over a Canadian company.

The problem is that if another country, with different ethics and goals and ways of doing business, owned a Canadian company it might have too much power over the way things are done in Canada. Its rules for the treatment of its workers, for example, might not be the same.

Some people say Harper was trying to satisfy everyone with a compromise. China is happy it gets to buy Nexen, yet Canadians understand that their companies and oil resources won’t all be sold to foreign governments.

Harper explained this to reporters:

“To be blunt, Canadians have not spent years reducing the ownership of the economy by our own governments only to see them bought and controlled by foreign governments instead.”

With files from Barbara Shecter.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
There are pros and cons concerning other countries having ownership in Canada. One “pro” is that Canada would make a lot of money from the sale. One “con” is that Canadians who work for the company may be treated very differently by the new owners.

Create a T-chart and write some more pros and cons.

Reading Prompt: Comprehension Strategies

Primary & Junior
Identify a variety of reading comprehen- sion strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Identify a variety of listening compre- hension strategies and use them appro- priately before, during, and after listen- ing in order to understand and clarify the meaning of increasingly complex or challenging oral texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).