|Justin Trudeau walks past the media on Parliament Hill, September 26, 2012, in Ottawa. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)
OTTAWA - Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau has thrown the oil-patch industry a bone by coming out in favour of the CNOOC-Nexen takeover bid.
But the Montreal MP still opposes the planned Northern Gateway pipeline project -- and he has no solution for how the oil will get to thirsty Asian markets if the crucial Alberta-to-B.C pipeline isn't built.
"There are other ways of getting the oil out there," Trudeau told reporters in Calgary Tuesday, noting the industry was eyeing its options if the controversial project fails to get approval.
"I'm sure someone is going to figure out how to do it because it is important."
Trudeau's stance on the Nexen takeover bid sets him apart from the majority of Canadians, who polls indicate are wary about foreign control -- especially Chinese -- of Canadian firms.
He said the $15.1-billion takeover of the Canadian oil-and-gas producer by the Chinese state-owned company is crucial to Canada's future prosperity.
"It's the right thing for Canada, it's the right thing for the middle class, it's the right thing for jobs," he said. "We need the capital investments to survive and thrive and to be global players."
The New Democrats oppose the deal on human rights, environmental and national security grounds, and have called on the Conservative government to nix the takeover.
NDP natural resources critic Peter Julian called Trudeau's stance "clumsy and ill-informed" and argued his opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline on environmental grounds doesn't jibe with his support of the CNOOC-Nexen deal.
"He seems to be all over the map," Julian said.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair - asked four times by reporters what he thought of Trudeau's stance - refused to acknowledge the question.
Instead, he repeatedly criticized the Conservatives on their handling of the file.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a subtle dig at Trudeau during question period Tuesday, accusing the Liberals of being ready to "rubber-stamp" the deal without a full review.
But aside from Trudeau, the Grits haven't come out with their stance on the deal, saying only it depends on the details of the final decision.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said Trudeau was allowed "his own views in the context of his own leadership race."
Many MPs across the political spectrum have expressed feeling skittish about the deal.
The feds are weighing whether the bid presents a "net benefit" for Canada, and are also expected to announce a new framework for investments by state-owned entities when they table the decision.
The deadline for the closely watched decision is Dec. 10.
-- with files from Daniel Proussalidis