Harper Lets Slip Eye-Roll After Elizabeth May Says He Sold Canada's Sovereignty To China

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In an image that transcends language barriers, Stephen Harper was caught giving Green Party Leader Elizabeth May an epic eye-roll during the leaders' first French debate Thursday.

The moment caught attention on social media, even if it wasn't immediately clear to many what May said to irk the Conservative leader.

It turns out she was just making the small accusation that Harper sold Canada's sovereignty to China by approving the 2012 takeover of Calgary-based oil company Nexen by the China National Offshore Oil Co.

Communications consultant Tom Kott released a Vine of the moment.

Three years ago, May wrote a blog for the Green Party website questioning if investor-state provisions in the Nexen-CNOOC deal could result in Canadian laws being "struck down in hotel room arbitrations launched by the Communist Party of China."

"Losing sovereignty to China makes me nervous. I don't want to be intolerant. But I want us to trade items made in Canada, by Canadians, to China. I don't like the idea of China owning Canada," she wrote at the time.

"It makes it hard for us to point out to the Chinese government that it must start respecting human rights. We need to be really forceful in advocating for religious and political freedom in China. How do we do that when they have veto power over Canadian laws?"

Reaction to Harper's gesture was mixed on Twitter, with some finding it dismissive and others downright hilarious. One national columnist suggested it was an appropriate response because May's remark was "insane."

But the Green leader doubled down Friday morning, telling CBC Radio's Daybreak Montreal that Harper's reaction shows he "has thin skin on his sell-out of our sovereignty to People's Republic of China."

In what may have been her last chance to debate with the rest of the leaders, May also scored some points during a heated discussion about whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear the face-covering niqab while taking the oath of citizenship. May said the entire controversy diverts discussion of much larger issues.

"What is the impact of the niqab on the economy? What is the impact of the niqab on climate change?" she asked. "What is the impact of the niqab on the jobless? It is a false debate meant as distraction from the real challenges for Canada."

She also made a splash on social media by throwing up a peace sign before the debate began. Buzzfeed Canada's Emma Loop caught that moment and gifted the Internet with an unforgettable Vine.

Related:

Top 3 Moments Of Leaders' French Debate

Niqab, Senate, Minority Rights Among Hot Issues Discussed

Mulcair, Harper Battle Over Niqab

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