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Clement Says Cnooc-Nexen Public Hearings Would Be Illegal

The government would be breaking the law by yielding to pressure from the opposition New Democratic Party to hold public hearings into Cnooc Ltd.’s takeover of Nexen Inc., Treasury Board President Tony Clement said.

The NDP, the biggest opposition party in the country’s legislature, introduced a motion yesterday calling on the government to hold public hearings “into the issue of foreign ownership in the Canadian energy sector with particular reference to the impact of state-owned enterprises.”

Beijing-based Cnooc has offered to acquire Nexen, a Calgary-based oil and gas producer, for $15.1 billion. The government is reviewing the proposal under the country’s foreign-takeover law, known as the Investment Canada Act.

“Basically they’re calling on the government of Canada to break the law,” Clement said in an interview today after giving a speech in Ottawa. “The law is very clear. Under the Investment Canada Act, there is a legal process that if you diverge from that process in any way, you are going to be subject to legal consequences.”

The motion is scheduled to be debated today and voted on tomorrow.

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