OTTAWA - For the first time, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is backing "reciprocity" with China as a factor in the government's decision on whether to approve Chinese state-owned CNOOC's $15.1-billion takeover of Canadian energy giant Nexen.
"Canadian investors would never be allowed to buy the raw natural resources of China," Mulcair said on Tuesday. "So, there's something terribly wrong with a government that keeps signing these deals where we pass for chumps, where they get something that we don't get."
Mulcair's new concerns echo late August comments by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Harper has said that securing comparable rights for Canadian firms to buy Chinese companies is one of the "important questions" in the CNOOC-Nexen deal.
Meanwhile, the NDP is pushing a motion in the House of Commons that calls for public consultations on the deal, hearings on foreign investment in the energy industry, and clearer rules for how the industry minister decides whether a foreign investment is of net benefit to Canada.
Independent MP Peter Goldring, who used to be a Tory, supports the NDP's motion, saying it's similar to one he proposed.
Still, the motion has little chance of passing as Conservatives argue the current process is good.
Carleton University business professor Ian Lee says the call for public consultations is "outrageous."
"It will politicize the process enormously," Lee said. "They're trying to transform these (approval processes) into kangaroo courts."
Lee suggests the NDP should admit it's suspicious of foreign investment.
"The whole purpose is to frighten off foreign capital," he said.