Canada Russia
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper chat during their meeting at the APEC Summit in Vladivostok

Canada and Russia are in some ways very similar countries: they're both big, cold, love hockey and are distinctly ill at ease with Americans.

They're also blessed with enormous piles of natural resources.

Russia needs technology to get at them. Canada needs money.

However, one has a reputation for corruption while the other is developing a reputation for protectionism and neither will suit them well if they want to develop those resources for the good of their economies.

Governments used to be - and to some degree still are - defined by their relationship with the transport industry.

Irrespective of its diminishing contribution to the broader economy, you could always guarantee a generous amount of hand-wringing and government meddling if an automaker was planning a layoff, a train company was bidding for a licence or an airline was the target of a foreign takeover. If you're lucky enough to work in that sector, you could feel reasonably confident someone was trying to protect your job.

Today, it seems, resources are the new transport.

Canada set out rules governing foreign takeovers back in 1985 - when the country was gingerly testing the international waters of globalisation and flirting with the idea of inking a regional trade pact with the US and Mexico.

For the next 25 years, its main trade body, Industry Canada, rejected a single deal (a US bid for defence contractor MacDonald Dettwiler in 2008).

Since then, IC's rejected two and looks ready to turf a third despite running the risk of alienating important global trading partners just as it seeks to attract the hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment that it needs to sustain growth in the one portion of its tiny economy that has long-term potential.

That's a bunch of fertilizer

Bids for a fertilizer group (Potash Corp) and an oil and gas firm (Nexen Energy) were kicked into the tall grass for failing to pass what's known as a "net benefit" test that uses an opaque and deliberately secretive process to discern whether a foreign takeover is good for the country.

In the case of Potash, it didn't even matter that the CEO was an American living and working in a Chicago head office, or that the principal shareholders were based in Los Angeles; Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government played the net-benefit trump and the $39bn deal - led by Australia's BHP Billiton - was dead. The shares have fallen nearly five times more than the benchmark S&P TSX Composite since then.

Last week IC knocked back a $5.1bn bid by Malaysia's Petronas for a west coast group called Progress Energy that has lucrative gas extraction rights in the province of British Columbia. A $15.1bn approach from China's state-owned oil giant, CNOOC, for Nexen is also unlikely to pass muster, particularly after one of Harper's conservative colleagues referred to China as a "non-benevolent" nation.

Which brings us to Russia.

Benevolence isn't the word most people associate with the emerging market giant. Its issues with law, order corruption and democracy are well-documented. But so are its oil and gas reserves.

At present, it trails only Saudi Arabia in terms of output and is responsible for one of every eight barrels of crude pumped around the world on any given day. And it's also home to as many as 160 billion (yes, billion) barrels of potential crude reserves off its Arctic shelf.

That's the kind of oil that washes away a lot of sins.

Which might explain why BP appears so eager to get involved with its biggest state-run energy firm.

Still reeling from the fatal errors of Texas City and Macondo, not to mention the billions in liability and clean-up costs it needs to set aside to right the biggest environmental disaster in US history, BP is in search of an identity change.

No 'Nyet' to Rosneft

And Russia's Rosneft provides it.

Having been stymied by the nation's courts in an effort to partner its Arctic exploration (ironically in a case brought by its former Russian partners in TNK-BP) and having hat their CEO chucked out of the country, BP is instead choosing a path of lesser resistance that ignores reputation.

Sure, there's compensation in the form of $12.8bn in cash and a bunch of Rosenft shares, but let's be honest: this is a company with colourful past.

It once bought a tiny company with $358 and shared a corporate address with a vodka bar in the remote city of Tiver. Two weeks later that firm, Baikal Finance Group, paid $9.3bn for Yuganskenftegaz, the core of the mysteriously bankrupt Yukos that produced 2 percent of the world's crude oil, in a government-controlled auction.

Four days later it was bought by Rosneft.

Yukos' former boss, Mikhail Khordorkovsky, once the country's richest man and a long-time nemesis of Vladimir Putin, sits in prison.

It doesn't stop there. Leaked cables sent by former US Ambassador to Moscow John Beyrle in 2009 described state-owned energy giant Gazprom (whose former chairman is now the Russian president) as "inefficient, politically driven and corrupt".

Standard & Poor's said only last week that Russia's investment grade credit rating might be at risk if the country isn't better able to attract foreign investment by cleaning up corruption and fostering a more honest business climate.

It's crucial.

Russia's an energy dependent economy whose fortunes rise and fall - almost literally - with the price of crude. It drives half of the nation's revenues. But the crude it needs to tap is hard to reach and requires a technical nous the Russians have yet to provide. BP, on the other hand, has it in spades (even if its overall management skills are highly questionable).

If the Rosneft/BP deal effective locks out foreign rivals to Russia's crude market, and BP becomes ever-more reliant on Russian operations to pay its legal bills in the United States, innovation is likely to blossom in a state-controlled duopoly.

Canada's predicament is similar.

If it frustrates foreign investment with opaque decisions on takeovers made (literally) in the middle of the night it can kiss its growth story goodbye. Canada is a million skilled workers shy of the full employment it will need over the next decade to fulfil its economic potential and $630bn short of the capital needed to boost its energy export infrastructure.

Resource exports account for around 12 percent of Canada's GDP and keep more than three quarters of a million people working. But selling your stuff abroad gets a lot harder when you're turning away state-run companies at home.

There's a great story, most likely apocryphal, often told to first-year physics students of a brilliant professor who builds a working aeroplane in his basement, only to discover it's too big to fit through the back door.

Leaders in Ottawa and Moscow should think about that.