NDP’s rejection of Nexen deal pushes Harper into tight corner – by Jameson Berkow (National Post – October 4, 2012)posted in Canadian/International Media Resource Articles, Oil and Gas Sector-Politics and Image |
The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.
CALGARY — Canada’s official opposition has conducted its own “net benefit” test of China’s $15.1-billion attempt to buy a Canadian oil sands producer and issued the deal a failing grade.
The federal New Democratic Party Thursday urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to prevent Calgary-based Nexen Inc. from being sold to CNOOC Ltd., a state-controlled enterprise backed by China’s Communist government. While unsurprising given the party’s recent statements on the proposed deal, the move, experts say, was designed to provide the NDP with political capital.
“If the deal is denied then the NDP can try to take credit for denying the deal. If the deal goes forward then they can campaign on the fact that Stephen Harper doesn’t listen to Canadians,” said Duane Bratt, professor and chair of the policy studies department at Calgary’s Mount Royal University.
“Almost every foreign investment would fail the NDP test, any trade deal would fail the NDP test. They are a protectionist party so remember the government is not bound by the will of the opposition party here.” Few people cried foul of the deal when it was proposed in late July. But the issue of foreign state-owned players acquiring stakes in Canada’s oil patch has quickly gained momentum as debate has become increasingly contentious.
Some senior cabinet members in the Harper government have expressed concerns over the deal’s potential to trigger more foreign takeovers, while most observers who support the deal appear want strict conditions attached.
In a recent survey of Canadian corporate executives, only 42% of 152 respondents said they would support the deal without conditions, while 50% said they would oppose the deal without conditions. Alberta Premier Alison Redford is also reported to have written to Industry Minister Christian Paradis asking him to ensure Canadian jobs will be protected and a mostly Canadian management team be maintained.
Mr. Harper is not bound by the NDP’s position in any way as the process is a bureaucratic one entirely contained within Industry Canada that does not involve a Parliamentary vote. The opposition has, however, served to galvanize public resistance against allowing China’s largest foreign takeover attempt to date to proceed.
Peter Julian, the NDP’s natural resources critic, told the Canadian Press in Ottawa that the deal raises questions about the future of Canadian jobs and the location of the new company’s head office. CNOOC has promised both to retain all of Nexen’s approximately 3,000 employees and to keep Calgary as its hemispheric headquarters.
For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://business.financialpost.com/2012/10/04/ndps-rejection-of-nexen-deal-pushes-harper-into-tight-corner/