October 31, 2012
Harper, Mulcair spar over trade deal with China
By Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter
The NDP to-do list if it forms government grew Wednesday with a promise to scrap an agreement with China that Prime Minister Stephen Harper says would create jobs and protect billions in investments.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Harper traded barbs during a spat in the House of Commons that highlighted the ideological differences between New Democrats and Conservatives when it comes to economic growth and trade.
Mulcair used the September signing of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) to accuse Harper of selling out Canada by signing a deal he says was negotiated in secret.
"Let me be very clear. The Conservatives will not tie the hands of the NDP. We will revoke this agreement if it is not in the best interests of Canadians," Mulcair said. "Why will the Prime Minister not allow the study of this deal? What does he have to hide?
Harper, who heads off to India this weekend on his latest global trek to drum up investment and encourage trade, portrayed the NDP as anti-trade.
"When the NDP says it is for trade, it has opposed trade with anybody. The NDP even said it was a sell out for Canada to have a free-trade agreement with the United States," Harper said. "That kind of extremism on trade is why Canadians will never entrust economic policy to the NDP."
The tough talk comes as the government reviews a $15.1 billion bid by a state-owned Chinese company to purchase Nexen, a Calgary oil giant.
Canadian companies have been skittish about operating in China because of that country's history of corruption, and say FIPA will reduce the risks of investing in the fastest growing economy in the world.
The NDP and Liberals want the deal - which still needs cabinet ratification - to be brought before a Commons committee for study.
Earlier this week, the NDP promised to reverse changes to Old Age Security and has previously said it would hike corporate taxes, among other policies the Conservatives say will hit Canadians in the pocketbook.