Message of the day: “Canada’s trade future lies in the Asia-Pacific”
Questions not answered:
• Is free trade with a state-controlled economy possible?
• What is the line the NDP wants drawn around foreign takeovers?
Free trade with China:
With news that the Chinese smbassador is saying a free trade deal with Canada should be a short-term goal to be reached within 10 years, the West Block spoke with foreign affairs minister John Baird. Baird pointed to the signing of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement two weeks ago, a deal that was 17 years in the making, as a first step, though he noted that a free trade agreement with China would be different than your usual deal of this kind because of the nature of the Chinese economy. Baird said Canada’s trade future lies in the Asia-Pacific, and that our relationship with Beijing is mature enough to handle challenges like the latest CSIS report. Baird also noted that though the Nexen deal is worth $15 billion, the company only has $2 or $3 billion in Canadian assets.
On Question Period, Kevin Newman spoke to Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai, who treated any Chinese reaction to a rejection of the Nexen deal as a hypothetical. Zhang says that China wants to invest in Canada because of our political stability and established rules and regulations, and that they welcome our government’s efforts to diversify our economy and focus on Asia’s growing markets. Zhang also said that Chinese corporations like CNOOC are state-owned, but not state-run, much like a Crown corporation here in Canada, and that the company bidding to take over Nexen is a subsidiary of CNOOC that is listed on stock exchanges and must thus be accountable to shareholders. Zhang would not comment on the CSIS report.
Newman then spoke to Thomas Mulcair, who was in Edmonton for the provincial NDP convention. The NDP leader said he is very concerned about the possible takeover because there has been no proper consultation over that issue and only vague references to criteria on foreign takeovers have been made. Mulcair said Nexen shareholders agreed to the deal because they stood to “make a pile of money,” and wondered what would be up for grabs next—agricultural land? Mulcair aptly sidestepped efforts by Newman to get him to discuss which takeovers an hypothetical NDP government might accept or reject. Instead Muclair reiterated to the point that there is no definition of what constitutes a strategic asset in the current legislation, and suggested Canada needs to pin that down first.
Newman asked whether inserting changes to MP pensions into an omnibus budget bill would act “like a noose” for opposition parties. Conservative MP Shelly Glover first let it be known that she tried to waive her pension, but, when pressed, add that the government wants to throw MP pension reform into the budget bill so that the legislation will be passed quickly and avoid being held up in additional unnecessary study. NDP MP Peter Julian repeated his party’s line that they want an independent panel to study the issue. CTV lost the satellite feed before Liberal MP Marc Garneau could say anything.
Tom Clark spoke to captain Christian Maranda, a member of the Vandoos, who was wounded by an IED in Afghanistan. Maranda was was competing with a specialised hand-cycle because of the injuries to his legs.