Hats off to Larry

Now that Industry Minister Tony Clement has said no to the sale of Potash Corp. and BHP Billiton has withdrawn its offer, nationalists like myself should feel happy, but I don’t. Rather than a hollowing-out where a head office was moved, what we have here is a hollow victory. It feels like your team won because the other side scored in its own net during the dying seconds of the game.

Don’t get me wrong, this is the right outcome, but the wrong way to get there. Canada has the most open policy in the developed world when it comes to foreign takeovers. Since 1984 there have been more than 1,800 foreign acquisitions of Canadian companies without a peep of official protest. Then, all of sudden, this decision. A committee has been struck to draw up a better set of criteria, one that is more transparent, so everyone knows the new rules of the game. I trust that the net-benefit hurdle will be higher than it has been, otherwise Canadian ownership of entire sectors will continue to disappear as has already happened with oil and gas, mining and steel to the detriment of us all.

The inimitable CBC commentator, Larry Zolf, has in the past used a phrase on other topics that applies to the decision-making process here: ad-hockery night in Canada. We can’t always count on fluke victories.

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