IN THE NEWS ~ CBC RADIO The House ~ Peter Julian on Harper's approval of CNOOC-Nexen deal

Peter Julian on Harper's approval of CNOOC-Nexen deal

EVAN SOLOMON (HOST), CBC Radio - The House

- And then we'll hear from the NDP's critic on the file, Peter Julian, with his reaction. -

But what does the opposition think about this? Let's get some reaction now from the Energy and Natural Resources critic for the NDP, Peter Julian. Good morning and welcome to The House.

PETER JULIAN (NATURAL RESOURCES CRITIC, NDP):

Good morning.

EVAN SOLOMON (HOST):

You have called the Conservatives' approval of this CNOOC takeover of Nexen «irresponsible». Why?

PETER JULIAN (NATURAL RESOURCES CRITIC, NDP):

Well, what Canadians have been asking for over the last few months, and 70 percent of Canadians have been opposed to this takeover deal getting the rubber stamping it got last night from Stephen Harper - now what Canadians have been saying is they want public consultation, they want a clear definition of net benefit, they want to have clear policy around these types of takeovers. And the government, irresponsibly over the last few months, has been basically playing a very amateurish game making these extensions on the overall process but not getting down to work and doing what Parliament asked them to do two years ago. After the potash debacle which was put in place very clear guidelines around that benefit, put in place a public consultation process and make sure that commitments that are made by companies who take over Canadian companies are binding. The government has done none of this: so this is an irresponsible approval because they haven't put into place what is necessary to really make sure that the public has confidence that this is the right decision.

EVAN SOLOMON (HOST):

But what do you make of the fact that the government has essentially drawn a red line according to Stephen Harper, saying that this is the hit for state-owned enterprises, they'll only be approved in the future in exceptional circumstance, but this is the threshold he says.

PETER JULIAN (NATURAL RESOURCES CRITIC, NDP):

Well, Evan, actions speak louder than words. Last night, he approved a major acquisition that gives full control of CNOOC over the Long Lake Project and a major acquisition received a rubber stamp. So, I know that the government is trying to sugarcoat what is a very bitter pill for Canadians to swallow, but all this tough talk doesn't, in any way, bely the fact that this government has not put in place very clear guidelines around Investment Canada. And, so they can have this tough talk but the reality is nothing has changed since last night on the Investment Canada front. What they have done is approved an acquisition, a takeover, that many Canadians find very controversial, and they've obtained nothing in return, not even reciprocity. So what we have is a government basically making bold promises to not do what they did last night again. And I simply don't believe them.

EVAN SOLOMON (HOST):

What about the distinction they're making between state-owned enterprises and private enterprises essentially loosening the Investment Canada rules for private companies? But they say, after grand-fathering these two deals, they'll tighten them up for state-owned enterprises because he says he's weary of their motive. PETER JULIAN (NATURAL RESOURCES CRITIC, NDP):

Well, what he did last night, Stephen Harper sent a very powerful signal that Canada is for sell and that there will be other acquisitions undoubtedly. I mean, we've been hearing rumors of a whole bunch of other takeovers that are pending. The signals he sent by approving, by rubber stamping the CNOOC takeover of Nexen - which is very problematic very controversial even in the Conservative Caucus; that powerful message he's sending is «we'll approve them». And so, the tough talk and the sugarcoating and the massaging of the message for me doesn't count for much. It's the bottom line, and the bottom line is he approved the CNOOC takeover of Nexen even though there are many downsides for Canada.

EVAN SOLOMON (HOST):

Peter Julian, thanks for your comments this morning.

PETER JULIAN (NATURAL RESOURCES CRITIC, NDP):

All my pleasure.

EVAN SOLOMON (HOST):

That's the NDP's Energy and Natural Resources critic Peter Julian.