On April 25, MLI hosted a panel discussion titled, Dragon with a Chequebook: Aecon, China, and the Challenges to Canada’s Policy on Foreign Investment. This event featured former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Ward Elcock, Charles Burton, an associate professor at Brock University and a former Canadian diplomat who served in China, and MLI senior fellow and China expert Duanjie Chen. It attracted an array of audience members, including politicians, diplomats, academics, concerned Canadians, and the media.
Both the Globe and Mail and Financial Post covered the event. As noted in the Globe, Elcock recommended that the government should reject the takeover proposal: “It seems to me very difficult for the government to approve the Aecon acquisition without incurring significant risks to national security going forward. It would certainly not be my recommendation to allow it to proceed.” He also concluded that Canada can expect a “fairly sharp reaction from China” if we reject the deal, “but we don’t know what it will look like.”
In the Financial Post, Chen notes that China intends to use state-owned enterprises to expand its reach into developed countries through acquisitions: “It’s not aiming at profit but market share — particularly in developed countries.” And Burton warns that “we need to exercise more caution than the current government is currently exercising.”