11/06/2012 04:52 EST | Updated 01/06/2013 05:12 EST

Nova Scotia-funded wind tower plant to unfairly compete in oil sector: Liberals

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's opposition parties say a company subsidized by the province is planning to compete unfairly against private sector companies.

Economic Development Minister Percy Paris fielded a flurry of questions from both the Liberals and Tories in the legislature Tuesday about plans by wind tower parts maker DSTN-DSME Trenton to diversify into the oil and gas sector.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said the plans were outlined in an internal company newsletter he presented in the legislature.

The newsletter says the company is looking to build boilers and wants to produce other products such as pressure vessels and tanks for the oil and gas industry.

McNeil told reporters that because the province has already invested $60 million in the plant and owns a 49 per cent equity stake, it runs the risk of killing private sector jobs.

"This is in direct competition, using tax dollars to compete against Nova Scotia companies," said McNeil.

But Economic Development Minister Percy Paris said the company has every right to compete in other sectors and he doesn't see how the province's stake gives it an unfair advantage.

"I don't see how that translates into an edge," Paris said. "We invest in a lot of companies in Nova Scotia to create good jobs."

Paris said that he was not aware DSTN was looking to make boilers and added that he had seen no complaints from private companies.

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said the government's equity stake gives it the right to put the brakes on the company's plans.

"The government has given them a lot of money to create new jobs not to replace existing jobs at other existing companies," said Baillie.

The company did not return a call seeking comment.