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China treaty a threat to control over natural resources says Mulcair

NDP leader claims resource industry is getting a “free ride” when it comes to the environmental costs of extraction.


CALGARY—NDP leader Tom Mulcair says a soon-to-be ratified investment treaty between Canada and China has the potential to wrest control of natural resources away from the country’s provinces.

“I think one of the things that we have to know is that this can cause huge upheaval in the province’s ability to control their natural resources and real problems for Canada’s sovereignty long-term,” Mulcair said in an interview.

Mulcair has said previously that a New Democrat government would do anything in its power to extricate Canada from the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement if it’s found to not be in the country’s best interest.

“People are starting to realize that this could play havoc with the province’s ability to control their resources going forward.”

Control over resources is a particularly prickly topic in Alberta, where Mulcair was making a stop to support anti-poverty advocate Dan Meades, the party’s candidate for Calgary-Centre in a Nov. 26 byelection.

However, Mulcair reiterated some points that have in the past rubbed many Albertans the wrong way.

He stood by his assertion the Canadian dollar is being driven artificially higher because the resource industry is getting a “free ride” when it comes to paying the environmental costs of extraction.

He said that, in turn, is hurting the manufacturers in Central Canada that are having a tougher time exporting their goods—a phenomenon known as Dutch disease.

He called the proposed $6-billion Northern Gateway pipeline connecting oilsands crude to the West Coast port of Kitimat, BC, a “non-starter” on environmental grounds, adding that approving it would be a “historical mistake.”

And Mulcair again took aim at the Keystone XL project, which if approved would significantly increase the amount of raw oil sands bitumen Canada ships south of the border.

Doing that will sacrifice upgrading and manufacturing jobs, he said, suggesting Canada should instead look to process the crude at home.

The NDP is, however, on record as supporting proposals to ship crude from western Canada to refineries in Ontario and Quebec, since it would allow those facilities to buy cheap Canadian crude rather than pricey international varieties.

“We think rather than going that way, more to the US, we should take care of our own energy security first,” said Mulcair. “That would be a win-win-win situation. A win for the producing provinces, a win for the companies that have their own ownership of what they’ve bought or leased and a win for the country because we’d be providing greater energy security for the future.”

©The Canadian Press