Lament for a nation

Congratulations to Industry Minister Jim Prentice for scotching the MacDonald, Dettweiler and Associates (MDA) deal. If ever an American takeover cried out for such unprecedented action, this was it. As makers of Canadarm and Radarsat-2, the satellite that guards the Arctic, MDA should remain Canadian and now will.

The fact that this is the first time Canada has stopped such a grab riles me. We’ve been selling out this country since the nineteenth century when sawmills were the focus of foreign interest. Why exactly do we protect banks and cable companies and so little else?

Even bookstores are shielded. Chapters/Indigo now has two-thirds of the Canadian book market. Its tentacles reach deep into publishing houses who change cover designs on a buyer’s whim and need pre-approval on titles before the giant retailer will deign to stock particular books. In the case of some cultural industries, a little foreign competition would be welcome.

I’d like to think today’s announcement about MDA means that Minister Prentice will step in on other situations outside such designated industries but there’s so little Canadian content left to worry about that maybe all we can hope for is the right decision on an ad hoc basis.

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