A security officer keeps watch outside the headquarters of China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) in Beijing.
Credits: REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV/Files
OTTAWA - Nearly six in 10 Canadians say the Harper government should spike a bid by a company owned by China's communist government to snap up one of Canada's biggest oil and gas producers, says a new poll.
Earlier this summer, CNOOC Ltd., the Chinese state-owned oil company, offered to pay $15.1 billion for all of the shares of Nexen of Calgary.
It is the largest proposed takeover made by any Chinese company anywhere in the world.
The poll, commissioned by Sun News Network and done by Abacus Data, shows that Canadians in all regions of the country and from all political backgrounds think the advance from CNOOC (generally pronounced sea-knock) ought to be rejected.
CNOOC made its pitch just weeks after Prime Minister Stephen Harper travelled to China, where he repeatedly told business audiences there that Canada was eager for investment and trade.
And yet Ottawa seems to have been surprised that the Chinese would take Harper up on his invitation so quickly and, apparently, so completely.
Canadians, though, think there's now only one thing for Harper to do: Tell the Chinese they can't own a chunk of the oilsands.
Asked whether the federal government should approve CNOOC's bid for Nexen, 57% said no, 9% said it ought to be approved and 34% said they were not sure. Notably, among the 2,099 surveyed, 57% were unaware of CNOOC's bid for Nexen.
Opposition to the deal was strongest in British Columbia, where 63% are opposed to the deal and only 8% approve. Even in Alberta, only 19% are in favour of the deal while 47% are opposed.
Partisans of all stripes are also down on the deal, led by the 73% of Green Party supporters who oppose it.
Even 54% of those who voted for the Harper government in the last election think Harper should spike the deal, while just 16% of Conservatives like it.
Under Canadian foreign investment laws, the deal requires federal government approval.
Under Hong Kong stock exchange rules, CNOOC was supposed to have provided more information on the takeover earlier this month, but CNOOC asked for and received an extension on that deadline and now won't provide the detailed financial information until December.
The online poll of 2,099 Canadians was conducted Aug. 10 to 12. As the survey respondents were not selected randomly but were drawn from an online panel of more than 150,000 Canadians, a margin of error could not be calculated. The pollster weighted the survey sample by age, gender, region and education level according the most recent census data.