Paradis says it's now up to China to explain deal to Canadians
Published Sunday, December 9, 2012 9:00AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 9, 2012 11:04AM EST
Canada’s Industry Minister is remaining tight-lipped over the specific "net benefits" Canadians can expect in exchange for the sale of Alberta-based oil and gas company Nexen to a Chinese state-owned oil enterprise.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Friday his government is giving the green light to the controversial $15.1-billion takeover of Calgary-based Nexen Inc. by China National Offshore Oil Co., but made it clear that such deals will only be allowed under "exceptional circumstances" in the future.
Ottawa also approved Malaysian state-owned company Petronas’s $6-billion purchase of Calgary-based Progress Energy.
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period Christian Paradis touted his government’s handling of the $15.1-billion deal between CNOOC and Nexen, but would not say whether the state-owned enterprise had sweetened the deal before the Harper government signed off.
"The idea here was to make sure we heard what the Canadian concerns were, to make sure that we had significant undertakings in terms of governance, transparency and disclosure, and compliance," Paradis said.
Watch Question Period on CTV at 11 a.m. in Ontario, Quebec & Manitoba; 12 p.m. in Atlantic Canada, 2 p.m. in B.C.; 3 p.m. in Alberta & Saskatchewan.
Prior to Harper’s announcement, the Chinese state-owned CNOOC had made public a commitment to keep Nexen’s management board Canadian, and keep its head office in Calgary.
Paradis did not say whether any environmental guarantees were given by CNOOC or requested by Canada.
Paradis said he was "not allowed" to go public with the details of what is a commercial sale, indicating that it is now up to China to reveal so-called benefits to Canadians.
"What we have to be clear about is the structure of the industry didn’t change," Paradis said.
The minister said Ottawa made "clear signals" that the Nexen and Progress deals are where Canada draws the line, and that Canada is open for investment with foreign companies, but not for sale to foreign governments.
Harper had said under major changes to policies under the Investment Canada Act, all state-owned enterprises looking to buy Canadian companies will face greater scrutiny.
Many critics have concerns about national security issues and China’s record when it comes to labour rights.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service had previously expressed concerns over foreign investment by state-owned companies, although it did not single out specific countries as potential threats in its annual report.
But the prime minister said that all deals involving foreign companies, regardless of whether they are state-owned or not, are subject to a national security test.
"These transactions have been assessed according to that review and do not raise any concerns," Harper said.