Friday, November 26, 2010

Potash Decision a Victory

People’s Voice Editorial

Ottawa’s denial of the BHP Billiton hostile bid for the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan is an important victory, despite the crass opportunism behind the decision. In ordinary circumstances, the Harper Tories would have approved this deal without batting an eye, believing that whatever corporations want must be delivered. But instead of the usual rubber‑stamp given to foreign investors, Industry Minister Tony Clement argued that the deal does not provide a “net benefit” to Canada.

Of course, the real reason for Clement’s position was the electoral needs of the Conservative Party. The loss of even a handful of Saskatchewan Tory MPs would make Stephen Harper’s quest for a majority in Parliament much more doubtful.

Right‑wing pundits and politicians are frantic to demand that this decision (which could still face an appeal) must not represent a “precedent”. What nonsense! Foreign TNCs will continue seeking to buy up Canadian natural resources, understanding that BHP ran into trouble for threatening to deprive a Conservative stronghold province of a huge percentage of its revenue base.

But this case does have an important positive side. The debate over the future of potash has raised awareness that Canadians are increasingly denied the ability to make critical decisions over our economy. Even a grudging recognition by the federal Conservatives that there is such a concept as “net benefit to Canada” is an advance in the long‑term struggle to achieve Canadian control of resources. The job of progressive forces is to continue to extend the struggle for sovereignty, including full and immediate abrogation of the treasonous Free Trade Agreement and all other “treaties” which allow corporations to control our future.

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