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NEWS: Mulcair promises to “partner” with the energy sector in 2015

The Financial Post reports that NDP leader Thomas Mulcair signalled important changes to the party’s energy policy in an address to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce yesterday. Muclair stated, “The NDP will be a partner for the development of our energy resources when we form a government in 2015. We will work with you so the rules are clear and that the public has confidence in what we’re going to do together. We’ll be there with you. What we’re talking about is sustainable development, making sure that future generations enjoy the same great Canada we’ve always had.”

The article notes, “He said pipelines to carry oil from the West to the East should be a priority because they would build energy security, get higher prices for Canadian oil, and create jobs” and “he spoke about the need to clarify the rules on foreign investment, particularly by state-owned enterprises like those from China”.

While Mulcair has previously indicated the NDP could support the Canada-European Union free trade agreement with certain conditions in place, he appeared to reject the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement yesterday. The Financial Post notes, “Under the deal, once a Chinese company is established in Canada, it must receive ‘national treatment’ for expansion and operations — meaning it must be treated as if it were a Canadian company, Mr. Mulcair warned. The agreement also gives CNOOC powerful rights to expand its ownership in Canada’s oil and gas sector as any Canadian company would and provides China with a mechanism to sue the federal government if its rights to expand its oil sands interests are impeded.”

And in a scrum with reporters later, Mulcair reiterated his opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline, saying it is a “non-starter” and describing it as “the most abject misunderstanding of the importance of protecting the environment that I have ever seen”.

Columnnist Claudia Cattaneo comments, “Both positions (on foreign ownership and west-to-east pipelines) show greater political maturity for the aspiring prime minister (than his earlier claims that the tar sands contribute to the loss of jobs in Ontario). …They will resonate even in the Tory stronghold, where there has been hostility to CNOOC Ltd.’s takeover of Nexen Inc. and where the oil sands industry is desperately looking for new markets following controversies around their top export plans…”

With respect to the NDP repositioning itself on trade, specifically the Canada-EU free trade deal, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow stated earlier this month, “‘I’m very disappointed and I think it’s disturbing and a mistake. We want a progressive government in power too, but we have to weigh what they’re losing in terms of their moral compass, if you will, to what they might gain from some votes.”

The prepared text for Mulcair’s speech – which does not include the words climate change, water protection, Treaty rights, or renewable energy – can be read at http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/02/19/i-think-youll-find-that-the-calgary-chamber-and-the-new-democratic-party-actually-hold-quite-a-few-similar-views-on-the-topic/.