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Conservatives want Chinese takeover of Site C proponent to get national security review

Replacement work on Turbine #3 at the John Hart Generating Station on Vancouver Island. Photo by BC Hydro
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OTTAWA, O.N. — The federal Conservatives say they want a formal review to look at the national security risk of the state-owned China Communications Construction Co. buying Canadian firm Aecon for $1.5 billion.

The Globe and Mail is reporting that the Tories asked a number of questions of Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains about the transaction in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

“The Chinese company poised to take over Canadian construction giant Aecon is rampant with corruption and has just been blacklisted by Bangladesh for that very reason,” Conservative MP Tony Clement told the House. “We know Aecon has been awarded numerous sensitive Canadian government contracts, including working with our military and in the nuclear sector. When Bangladesh is sounding alarm bells, why is Canada staying silent and not calling for a full national-security review of the takeover of Aecon?”

Bains didn’t say if the takeover would be specifically reviewed in-depth, saying instead that all foreign takeovers face a national-security review. However, most only go through preliminary security screening, and not an in-depth analysis.

According to Investment Canada data, The Globe reports that of the more than 700 foreign takeovers that underwent a routine security screening in last year, only five underwent a full-scale review. Four were ordered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet while the fifth was ordered by the Federal Court of Canada.

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Aecon is one of four companies in a partnership that was announced as BC Hydro’s preferred proponent for the contract to build the Site C dam’s generating station and spillways. The company also won the roughly $1 billion contract to renovate BC Hydro’s John Hart Generating Station near Campbell River.

The BC Building Trades Council’s Executive Director Tom Sigurdson said his organization has expressed concerns about the ramifications of the takeover for Site C, a project the Building Trades supports.

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“Anytime you have a takeover, whether its an international company that’s coming in or it’s two competing international companies, every corporation has its own culture,” said Sigurdson. “So you get changes that take place, and it does translate to what happens on the ground. I do have a concern about a foreign national taking over a very large North American-based company. It’s because the culture may change. I don’t know what kind of changes in management are going to take place and how that will filter down.”

Sigurdson added however that his organization will still make sure that the safety workers of its member unions is still the number one priority.

With files from The Globe and Mail: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/conservatives-call-for-national-security-review-of-aecon-sale-to-chinese-company/article37895752/?utm_source=Shared+Article+Sent+to+User&utm_medium=E-mail:+Newsletters+/+E-Blasts+/+etc.&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links

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