* Prime Minister says deal must be in Canada's "best
* Harper says proposal has significant implications for
* Online poll shows stiff opposition to CNOOC takeover of
Aug 23 Public opinion and reciprocity will be
important issues for Canada as it weighs whether to allow the
$15 billion bid by Chinese oil company CNOOC Ltd for
Nexen Inc, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on
Speaking to reporters during a tour of the Canadian Arctic,
Harper said the deal had big implications for the Canadian
Asked if public opinion would play a role in the
government's decision, and why a Chinese company could buy a
Canadian one if Canadians cannot buy Chinese firms, Harper noted
that Canada has "significant and growing" investment in China,
but added: "You do raise some important questions."
Canada's Sun newspapers ran an online Abacus Data poll on
Thursday which said that 57 percent of 2,099 respondents opposed
approving the deal and only 9 percent favored it. However fewer
than half of respondents were aware of the proposed transaction,
which would be China's biggest foreign takeover.
"This is a significant transaction with significant
implications for the Canadian economy, both today and in the
long term, and I think those considerations need scrutiny and
they need some clear long-term policy direction," Harper said,
according to a transcript his remarks.
"Our government will take the time we have to properly
scrutinize this transaction, and to assess that if it is to go
ahead, that it will only go ahead if it is in the best long-term
interests of the Canadian economy, not just net benefit of
Canada, but in the best long-term interests of the Canadian
economy, and that will be measured across a range of
considerations, including some of the ones you've mentioned."
Canadian law requires a proposed foreign takeover to be
deemed to be of "net benefit" to Canada for the industry
minister to approve it. Harper did not explain how that "net
benefit" concept differed from "the best long-term interests of
the Canadian economy."
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told Reuters in China
in February that any long-term strategic relationship with China
would have to be based on "mutual respect, reciprocity and