Thursday, October 21, 2010

Caution: Potash Debate Contains Corrosive Lyes

So, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Walls has done the right thing and determined that the sale of Potash would not be of net benefit to the province and therefore his government is asking the federal government to disallow the sale to BHP of Australia.

Unfortunately and predictably, the federal government has not done the right thing. Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying he doesn't think Potash needs to be "protected" from foreign takeover. He termed the situation as, “a proposal for an American-controlled company to be taken over by an Australian-controlled company.”

Harper's statement is, of course, completely false - Potash is 49% Canadian-owned and 38% U.S. owned.

Aside from the sheer stupidity of selling out control over a strategic resource that is located in Canada, that we need in Canada, and that we already control in Canada, there are other problems with this deal that might be overlooked.

One of the more corrosive ones could be the specter of the federal government going directly against the expressed wishes of a province, over an issue that is so tightly woven into the provincial fabric. Potash is produced and consumed in Saskatchewan - not in Ottawa. Aside from the obvious negative consequences for the Conservatives in Saskatchewan, this issue could also be brought up as an example and used by anti-federalists in other provinces, particularly in Quebec.

After all, if the Conservative Premier of Saskatchewan, a province loaded with Conservative MPs, cannot trust the Conservative Prime Minister of Canada, then probably no one can. Oh yeah, we already knew that.

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