It wasn't long ago that the Canadian energy space was one of the most promising markets for investors. Between November 2000 and June 2008, the S&P/TSX Capped Energy Index climbed by 387 percent.
Things started changing when the U.S. struck black gold in North Dakota in 2008 and began producing more of its own oil. Investors — even Canadian ones — began looking for fast-growing buys south of the 49th parallel.
There are other reasons for Canada's sluggish growth, including a large price differential between Western Canadian oil and West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI). While there's always a bit of a gap between the two prices, in the fall of 2012, Canadian oil was $40 cheaper than WTI. That was unusually wide, said Pelletier, and it hurt a number of companies.
Read MoreStock with accelerated dividend growth potential
Most experts blame the gap on poor energy infrastructure — it's becoming increasingly more difficult to ship oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, and that's causing a backup in supply. While some companies are now shipping oil by rail, many people think that if Keystone XL can get approved, the supply problem will be resolved.
"[The lack of infrastructure] has been a big factor, and it may be again," said Les Stelmach, a fund manager with Franklin Templeton Investments, a global investment firm. "It's impacted the ability of Canadian oil-and-gas producers to get oil to market, and that adds to the uncertainty."
Investors have also been dismayed by the Canadian government's hesitations around oil-patch buyouts. In July 2012, China's CNOOC (NYSE: CEO) made a bid to buy Calgary's Nexen for $15 billion, but no one was sure if the federal government would approve the purchase. It did, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it clear that the country's biggest energy players, which control much of the country's natural resources, weren't for sale.
"That's one of the reasons why Canadian energy valuations got eroded by a [couple of] multiple points," said Craig Basinger, chief investment officer at Richardson GMP, a Toronto-based investment firm. "All of a sudden, a potential buyer is allowed to do a joint venture and that's it."