Canada opposition MP: treason to approve Nexen takeover

Tue Oct 2, 2012 3:44pm EDT
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By Louise Egan and Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Conservative government will commit treason if it approves a $15.1 billion bid by China's CNOOC Ltd to buy Canadian oil company Nexen Inc, opposition Member of Parliament Pat Martin said on Tuesday.

Martin was speaking during debate in the House of Commons on a motion by his left-leaning New Democratic Party demanding that the government hold public consultations before deciding whether to approve the deal.

He said China had displaced Canadian jobs in the garment industry in his electoral district and in the high-tech sector, "and now we're going to let the nation state of China come in and buy up our natural resources as well?" he asked.

"Anybody that considers allowing this deal, I accuse them of economic treason," the maverick MP said.

His position is not the formal policy of the NDP, though party leader Thomas Mulcair has voiced "grave concerns" about the Nexen takeover.

The NDP forced an all-day debate on the deal on Tuesday, and the party's energy critic, Peter Julian, urged the government not to give it routine approval.

"Before the government moves to rubber-stamp (the deal), consult the public," Julian told the House.

There is little chance that the demand for consultation will be met, given that the Conservatives have a majority in Parliament. But the debate has raised the prominence of the transaction, which has generated sharp questions about how to treat bids from Communist China's state-owned enterprises.   Continued...

A man walks into the Nexen building in downtown Calgary, Alberta, in this July 23, 2012, file photo. Canada's main opposition party urged the Conservative government not to rubber-stamp a bid by China's CNOOC Ltd to buy oil company Nexen Inc without public consultations, saying opinion had hardened against the deal, on October 2, 2012. REUTERS/Todd Korol/Files