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Mulcair decries treaty with China

CALGARY — A soon-to-be ratified investment treaty between Canada and China has the potential to wrest control of natural resources away from the provinces, the leader of the federal NDP said Tuesday.

“I think one of the things that we have to know is that this can cause huge upheaval in the province’s ability to control their natural resources and real problems for Canada’s sovereignty long-term,” Tom Mulcair said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Control over resources is a particularly prickly topic in Alberta, where Mulcair was making a stop to support anti-poverty advocate Dan Meades, the party’s candidate for Calgary-Centre in a Nov. 26 byelection.

Mulcair has said previously that a New Democrat government would do anything in its power to extricate Canada from the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement if it’s found to not be in the country’s best interest.

“I think the average Calgarian and the average Albertan understands very well that the battles that were fought 30 some-odd years ago to get control of natural resources put in the constitution shouldn’t be thrown aside easily,” Mulcair said at Meades’ campaign headquarters, where volunteers were busily working the phones in the next room.

“People are starting to realize that this could play havoc with the province’s ability to control their resources going forward.”

The separate, but related, issue of a state-owned Chinese company’s $15.1-billion takeover of Nexen Inc. (TSX:NXY) has been top of mind for voters in the downtown Calgary riding.

Calgary-Centre is where Nexen’s headquarters are located and it’s where China National Offshore Oil Co. has promised to base its North and Central American operations.

After two extensions, a federal decision on whether the Nexen deal is of net benefit to Canada is expected on Dec. 10. The NDP and other critics have derided the review process as being too vague and secretive, though the Conservative government has said it would clarify its guidelines soon.

“The big question that people seem to be asking is what are the Conservatives hiding?” asked Meades. “Why is it they won’t tell us how this decision is going to be made? Why is it they push it off again until after the byelection?”

Meades said he believes the NDP has a “great shot” at winning the riding in the heart of Tory country.

“The people of Calgary have a real penchant and kind of history of thinking for themselves and voting on the best ideas and the values that represent them,” he said.

 
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