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Harper draws a line in the oil sands Add to ...

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Stephen Harper has cemented his vision of Canada. The decisions the Prime Minister took Friday approved two takeovers of western Canadian energy companies by foreign government-controlled corporations, but virtually slammed the door shut on any future, similar deals.

More profoundly than that, Mr. Harper’s populist and ideological decision to draw a line in the oil sands could be one of the most influential rulings by Canada on world economic affairs in decades, as the global economy continues its seismic reordering in the era of emerging superpowers led by China. It’s a safe bet that continued access to Canada’s “unconventional” oil sands will be so vitally important to foreign interests that they will do one of two things: Either willingly go to greater lengths than have ever been expected to show that – regardless of who nominally owns them – that their decisions are driven by market forces, and not a murky, state-controlled agenda; or else, limit their investments in the oil sands to minority stakes in developers or in joint ventures.

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