American investors are placing their bets on Canadian energy, but not in a good way, according to one top executive.

Birchcliff Energy (BIR.TO) CEO Jeffery Tonken told BNN on Thursday that U.S. investors are selling out of most Canadian energy companies due to a perception they cannot compete with U.S. counterparts.

“The money managers have been selling the Canadian stocks because we can’t be as competitive as our U.S. neighbours,” he told BNN.

“They’re playing now more of a casino than they are investing in these companies. So, when you have higher overall costs because of government issues, that creates a difficult situation for us.”

Tonken joins a chorus of voices criticizing the current regulatory environment in Canada’s oil patch, with everyone from investors to industry reps to politicians speaking out this week.

Tonken says U.S. investors aren’t entirely abandoning Canadian energy, but rather keeping stakes in the big players as a hedge.

“These money managers just go to the biggest, largest oil players,” he told BNN. “So, they play Canadian Natural (Resources) (CNQ.TO) and they play Suncor (SU.TO) and they say they’re invested in Canada. That’s not really investing in Canada. That’s just taking two large oil plays and hoping that the Canadian dollar strengthens up and then they have a natural hedge, which is what they’re getting today. Higher oil prices and a higher Canadian dollar, they make it both ways.”

Tonken added that he believes Canadian oil is still a viable option for North American and global investors.

“We need to show that we can be competitive with them and I would say that the Montney (Formation) is as competitive as the Macellus (Formation) and the Permean Basin with respect to our costs and respect to our profits. “