When the prime minster called a hasty press lock-up on a Friday evening, Ottawa knew something big was brewing.
Stephen Harper has announced the government's approval of the hotly-contested takeover of Calgary-based energy company Nexen by state-run Chinese firm CNOOC. Also approved is the takeover of Progress Energy Resources Corp. by Petronas, Malaysia's oil and gas giant.
State-owned companies investing in Canada's energy sector has proved a very divisive topic and criticism from the opposition was fast and furious.
Not long after's Harper's announcement, Nathan Rotman, National Director of the NDP, sent an email to supporters saying that the prime minster had "just sold us out."
"I can’t believe it," he said. "Just moments ago, Stephen Harper sold out our natural resources ... This entire deal was made behind closed doors. No public hearings. No transparency. And now this — an announcement at 5 p.m. on a Friday."
"Today they're trying to sugar-coat something that I think will be a rather bitter pill,'' New Democrat natural resource critic Peter Julian told the Canadian Press, adding that there should have been more consultation with Canadians. "This is a farce."
Critics were also quick to jump on Harper's insistence that the CNOOC-Nexen approval was "exceptional" and foreign takeovers will face more scrutiny going forward.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May tweeted that it was a "clever move" to approve the deal and say "never again."
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