* Flaherty stresses importance of deal for Canada's future
* Downplays report that he warned against blocking deal
OSHAWA, Ontario, Sept 14 The Canadian
government's decision on whether to allow a $15.1 billion
takeover of Canadian oil producer Nexen Inc by China's
CNOOC Ltd is important for the future of the country,
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Friday.
"The Nexen transaction is going to be, and is being, closely
scrutinized," Flaherty told reporters in Oshawa, Ontario. "It's
sure important for the future of our country. It deals with
natural resources of which, fortunately, there are many in this
country, and they're going to be very important for a long time
Flaherty declined to comment when asked to confirm a Globe
and Mail newspaper report last month that said he had privately
warned his colleagues in cabinet that blocking the CNOOC bid for
political reasons would hurt investor confidence and damage
relations with China.
"I never comment on rumors. I didn't write this, somebody
else wrote that somewhere," he said.
Industry Minister Christian Paradis is reviewing the CNOOC
takeover proposal to decide whether it would be of "net benefit"
to Canada, a broadly defined test required under the country's
foreign investment law.
The review process is unlikely to finish before
At least two senior members of Prime Minister Stephen
Harper's cabinet are opposed to allowing a state-owned Chinese
company to make such a large investment in the country's
resource sector, government sources say, while at least one
senior minister is leaning toward approval.