|Payne concerned over sale|
|Local Content - Local News|
|Written by Collin Gallant and Trevor Busch|
|Wednesday, 06 February 2013 18:33|
Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne expressed "grave" concerns about the $15-billion sale of oilsands producer Nexen to a state-owned Chinese company last spring, according to documents a media outlet acquired via an information request.
National political commentators remarked the documents give a brief glimpse inside the decision on both the sale but also the inner workings of the Conservative Caucus, which has been accused of doing much of its business outside public view.
Payne said the letter was simply a regular part of his job, and he can't see what the fuss is about.
“It’s all passed already, the letter I wrote was last year, and I did express some concerns of constituents. People had come to me, and were concerned about some of the issues. One obviously was because it’s state owned, and people were concerned about human rights issues in China. Another aspect was concerns about the environment. Everything that gets reported on out of China, their environment has some big issues, with all of the smog and stuff that they have there.”
Documents obtained by the CBC and posted on their website include a letter from Payne, dated April 21, 2012, to Industry Minister Christian Paradis saying the political leadership in China did not share "Canadian values" regarding democracy.
"I'm sure you are aware that this record is not stellar," Payne wrote in a letter copied to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "It is my belief that Canadian laws must prevail, and that if we allow a state-owned company of a foreign nation that brutally represses its own citizens to buy a strategic asset here, we would be setting a very dangerous precedent."
Payne also touched on China's environmental record and the fact it had publicly criticized Canada over the Kyoto accord while building scores of high-polluting coal plants.
“From an environmental point of view, after discussions with the constituents, they understood they (CNOOC) have to meet Canadian laws, and provincial laws as well,” said Payne.
The CBC produced two other similar letters from Conservative MPs — Harold Albrecht, of B.C., and Russ Heibert, of Ontario — which state human rights must be taken into account.
In early December, Harper announced the sale would be permitted but future foreign takeovers of important assets or industry players by state-owned companies would only happen in exceptional circumstances.
“Those were some of the issues of my constituents, and so I addressed those to the minister and the prime minister on it,” said Payne. “Since that time, I know that the prime minister has on a couple of occasions talked with the Chinese about human rights issues. From a state-owned perspective, the prime minister and the minister did indicate the end of state-owned purchases of our resources. However, we’re still open for business — state-owned may be able to buy a portion, but certainly they’ll never be able to buy full ownership like they did with Nexen.”
Payne, however, wouldn't go any further on describing how other members of caucus felt about the sale.
"I think it's important that as members we express ourselves, and there are a variety of ways that we can do that," said Payne, adding caucus discussions are considered confidential.
The sale is still awaiting a decision from the United States' federal government as some Nexen assets are located in that country.
“I think I’ve done what I’m supposed to do as a member of Parliament, in addressing those concerns of my constituents.”
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