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TheStreet Open House

Is Now the Time for Canadian ETFs?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn't too pleased that President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, a vessel that would have shipped crude from Alberta's oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico. However, on Thursday, Harper described the exporting of Canadian energy as a "national priority" and pledged to fast-track regulatory approval.

In contrast, U.S. natural gas producers are still hoping to get the "thumbs up"on natural gas exporting. Perhaps producers like Conoco Phillips (COP) will make it through the government red tape, but U.S. regulators aren't quite as keen as Canadian officials about the importance of exporting commodities.

There are dramatic difference between the energy policies for each of the border nations. Where Harper has a majority in Parliament for his Conservative Party to reduce the burdensome effects of regulatory snafus, Obama must satisfy environmental advocates on the "Left." Ergo, the Adminstration deep-sixed the Keystone project (for now).

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Canada's prime minister clearly recognizes the problems associated with exporting virtually all of its oil to the U.S. In fact, speaking in Davos, Harper expressed the importance of increasing its capacity to sell its natural resources to Asia. Along those lines, Enbridge has proposed a route from Alberta to the Pacific coast of Canada, where oil would be tanker-bound for Asia.

What might this all mean for ETF enthusiasts? If you believe that European leaders will eventually manage the sovereign debt crisis and that China's leaders will effectively engineer a soft economic landing, Canadian ETFs would be a tremendous opportunity. For that matter, even a bit of Middle East discontent tends to benefit the world's second-largest non-OPEC oil producer.

If you want to go a slightly safer route, consider the iShares MSCI Canada Fund (EWC). It would need to pop roughly 20% in price, just to reclaim its 52-week highs of April 2011 (circa the "Arab Spring"). In other words, it has room to run. What's more, the 104 large-sized companies tracked by EWC are reasonably well established. (Energy sector exposure is roughly 28%.)

If you are willing to foray deeper into the energy pits, you can get 100% energy exposure via Guggenheim Canadian Energy Income (ENY). This ETF tracks 30-plus companies in the oil and gas sector, and may include oil sands producers or higher-yielding "oil royalty trusts." The current 30-Day SEC yield approximates 3.1%.

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