OTTAWA Nov 6 A top legislator in Canada's
ruling Conservative Party on Tuesday made public his fierce
opposition to a bid by China's CNOOC Ltd for Nexen Inc
, underlining the political challenges facing Ottawa as
it studies the takeover.
The comments from James Bezan, chair of the House of Commons
national defense committee, were among the harshest attacks any
Conservative has launched on the landmark $15.1 billion bid.
The government last week extended the review period until
Dec. 10 amid widespread unhappiness among Conservatives about
the idea of selling a Canadian energy firm to a Chinese
state-owned enterprise. Many in the party also have cited
China's human rights record as a reason to be cautious.
Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper is keen to sell oil
to China and attract more foreign investment, he must also
address increasing domestic unease about the deal.
iPolitics, a website reporting on Canadian politics, on
Monday said Bezan had criticized the CNOOC bid in an e-mail to a
"I am strongly opposed to this deal, and I have raised my
concerns directly with Cabinet as well as with the Prime
Minister ... due to China's dismal record on human rights and
freedoms, I take particular exception to allowing a state-owned
company from China to purchase a Canadian company," he said.
"The Communist Chinese government continues to fail to grant
even the most basic of human freedoms to its citizens, as they
strip away their national wealth to invest around the world.
CNOOC's past possible human rights abuses and failure to report
oil spills is something I am also very concerned about."
Industry Minister Christian Paradis is responsible for
studying the bid to see if it is of net benefit to Canada.
Bezan sent an email to Reuters on Tuesday confirming that he
had sent the email to the constituent.
"I stand by my comments on the CNOOC purchase of Nexen and
have expressed my concerns to Minister Paradis," he said in his
email to Reuters.
Harper has said that when the government releases its
decision on the CNOOC bid it will also unveil new guidelines for
foreign investment, in particular takeover bids by state-owned
Ottawa shocked markets on Oct. 5 when it unexpectedly
blocked Malaysia's Petronas from buying Canada's
Progress Energy Resources Corp.
Canada, the single largest exporter of energy to the United
States, says it needs C$650 billion ($657 billion) in investment
in the energy patch over the next 10 years alone and concedes
much of the money will have to come from abroad.