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Three of four Canadians against ceding control of resources to foreign governments: poll

More than three out of four Canadians believe that foreign governments should not be able to control resources on Canadian soil, and most Canadians want the Harper government to block the purchase of the Calgary-based Nexen oil and gas firm by a Chinese state-owned corporation.

Opposition to the deal is especially fierce in British Columbia and Alberta, and carries across party lines nationally, with 57 per cent of Conservatives polled saying they want the Nexen deal stopped.

Those are the findings of an Angus Reid poll released on Oct. 16, five days after the federal industry minister extended the time he’ll take to mull approving the Nexen deal, and just two weeks before the Harper government aims to ratify, without requirement of Parliamentary debate, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) that critics say gives Chinese state-owned corporations powers to override Canadian labour law, environmental regulations and democratic standards. 

From the Angus Reid press release:

In the online survey of a representative sample of 1,000 Canadians, one-in-four respondents (26 per cent) say they have followed news stories related to the proposed purchase "very closely" or "moderately closely."

People in Alberta (41 per cent) and British Columbia (35 per cent) are paying more attention to this issue than those in Eastern Canada.

Under the Investment Canada Act, federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis is expected to pass judgment on the proposed takeover of Nexen by CNOOC on the basis of whether it provides a net benefit to Canada. A majority of Canadians (58 per cent) believe the federal government should block the takeover, while only 12 per cent think it should be allowed.

British Columbians oppose the Nexen takeover by a 7-to-1 margin (69 per cent to 7 per cent). While one-in-five Albertans would prefer to allow the takeover (22 per cent), three-in-five (63 per cent) are against it.

Opposition to the proposed takeover is high across party lines, encompassing 65 per cent of Canadians who voted for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the 2011 federal election, 59 per cent of Liberal Party voters and 57 per cent of Conservative Party voters.

Practically half of Canadians (48 per cent) believe that, as a state-owned enterprise, CNOOC would have a competitive advantage over public companies.

A sizeable majority of respondents (78 per cent) think that foreign governments should not be able to control resources on Canadian soil.

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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