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Canadians sour on Chinese government takeover of Nexen: Poll

By Daniel Proussalidis, National Bureau

OTTAWA - 

If the federal government approves the takeover of Canadian energy giant Nexen by China's CNOOC, the latest poll suggests the feds will tap into a gusher of public opposition.

"The gut reaction of the public is just simply 'no'," said pollster David Coletto.

A Sun News-Abacus Data poll finds a whopping 69% of those asked say the feds should not approve Nexen's takeover by CNOOC, a company owned by the communist dictatorship in Beijing.

That's a 12% increase in opposition to the deal since August.

"There seems to be almost a consensus building around the fact that this (takeover) may not be the best idea," said Coletto.

Overall, only 8% say they want to see the feds approve CNOOC's $15.1 billion for all of the shares of Calgary-based Nexen.

Even among those who are most aware of the CNOOC-Nexen deal and closely follow stock markets, only 26% support the deal, while 58% oppose it.

Coletto says that means Industry Minister Christian Paradis will face a lot of skeptical voters if he's inclined to approve the merger.

"I think the fact that those who are most engaged are still opposed... suggests that it's a very tough sell for the government to convince the public that this is the right choice," said the pollster.

Reasons for opposing the takeover vary.

About 15% point to China's poor human rights record, but Coletto says most are about other factors.

"On the one hand there are those that oppose it on strategic grounds, that this is not a resource we should be giving up to foreign companies - any foreign company," he said. "And there's those who are more opposed to it because of the Chinese government connection."

The survey was conducted online with 1,208 participants between September 14 and 18.

Using traditional polling methods, the margin of error would be +/- 2.9%, 19 times out of 20.

Nexen shareholders vote on the deal Thursday.

Poll

Are you concerned about Chinese company's deal to take over Canada's Nexen?


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