Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Harper must intervene in Potash takeover, says Council of Canadians

Council of Canadians

This morning, the BHP Billiton takeover bid of Saskatchewan-based Potash Corp, moved into hostile territory, with BHP announcing it would buy $39 billion worth of shares directly from the shareholders. The Council of Canadians is not satisfied with the Harper government’s claim it will undertake a ‘rigorous review’ of the takeover, as this new development indicates time is quickly running out to stop it.

“Simply ‘reviewing’ the takeover is not good enough. We need a federal public inquiry, not just on this takeover but on the takeover of Canadian mining companies in general,” says Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow. “When your employer suddenly becomes a branch plant of a corporation in another hemisphere it can significantly reduce accountability to local workers and communities. The treatment of employees at Vale Inco, who had to endure a painful year-long strike, is just one case in point.”

“This is the wrong way to go,” says Barlow. “When you hand over all the power over these resources to international investors, be they backed by a large country or just private investors, you lose control, you lose the ability to take care of your local economy, your local environment.”

“This takeover also has serious implications for communities in other countries already impacted by the operations of the Canadian extractive industry,” adds Barlow. “Mining companies based in Canada have been implicated in human rights abuses around the world because of inadequate laws here to regulate their activities internationally, especially in the global South.”

“These kinds of takeovers could turn Canada into a haven for mining companies seeking impunity from human rights and environmental obligations, adding even further barriers to accountability for local peoples and communities.”

Most of the world’s mining companies are based in Canada.

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