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What exactly is a “net benefit to Canada”?

Posted by Ralph Goodale on August 27, 2012 | No Comments

After trashing federal science projects across the country, killing 3,000 environmental reviews, gutting the Fisheries and Parks departments, muzzling scientists, mangling the National Research Council and politicizing the National Energy Board – it’s no wonder Canadians were taken aback with Stephen Harper’s recent claim that he relies on impartial scientific assessments in making decisions about pipelines.

Yeah, right!

Similarly, last week it was surprising to hear him admit that a $15-billion bid by a state-owned Chinese corporation (CNOOC) to buy-out Nexen (a Calgary energy firm with Saskatchewan roots) could trigger a new set of rules governing foreign investment.

Since the beginning of the resources sector sell-off that started on Mr. Harper’s watch (e.g., nickel in Sudbury, steel in Hamilton, aluminum in Quebec, etc.), many Canadians have worried that too much domestic control in too many industries – including some major former “champions” – is being lost.

It came to a head in the potash case in 2010. At the last minute, the government reversed itself to block an Australian takeover of Saskatchewan’s potash industry, but only after it became obvious the deal would be highly unpopular politically.

At that time, the government admitted current rules governing foreign investment were not up to snuff, given new world market dynamics in the 21st century.

Liberals called for greater clarity in defining “net benefit to Canada.” We asked for a more accountable, transparent review process, so Canadians can know what’s “on the table” in any negotiating, and have some input. The role of affected provinces also needs more certainty.

If any proposed transaction is approved “with conditions,” those conditions must be completely public and easily enforceable.

And what about “reciprocity”? Can Canadians invest in the foreign jurisdiction of the takeover-bidder just as readily as they can invest in Canada? How will Canadians be assured that the purchased-entity will function on commercial market principles and not as an instrument of foreign politics?

The Conservatives promised to deliver better rules “with alacrity.” We’re still waiting. And other energy targets (Talisman? Cenovus? Encana?) may be on the hit-list.

Canadians deserve clarifications from their Parliament on this important issue.  I look forward to reading your comments.

Thank you.

Ralph Goodale

Member of Parliament for Wascana
Deputy Leader

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Please note that comments are moderated with the goal of stimulating an intelligent and fruitful discussion. As such, we ask that you use language that is civil and respectful, and refrain from attacks of any kind. We reserve the right to remove or not post any comments or information that does not meet these requirements.
  1. Avatar of John  McLaughlan John McLaughlan said on

    I’ve been asking the same question since the potash controversy. It’s the problem of having a government that considers speaking at length the same thing as communication. High on rhetoric, low on content.

    Which brings me to the next difficulty though, suppose the next election is drawing near, and I have watched and cheered on, and supported the Liberals in their drive to form the next government. But my friends and family ask, well what does Mr. Goodale propose to do differently?

    I think you’re right to call out the Conservatives to define “net benefit,” but what I really care about is how do You define “net benefit”?

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  2. Avatar of Robert Halter Robert Halter said on

    Great article Ralph. Yes, wouldn’t we all like to know what “net benefit to Canada” really means?

    Perhaps you could elaborate on this for us in a follow up, many of us could benefit from your input.

    Thanks
    Robert Halter

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  3. Avatar of Richard Richard said on

    Ralph, I have to agree with John and Robert. The membership is still struggling with selling the LPC to the public.
    We are still being stamped with “What do you (LPC) stand for?.” What makes you different from any other political party?”
    You raise excellent points, why are you asking for input, without giving your view or the LPC view.
    In my opinion, that is why the rebuild is stalling. No concrete direction by the leadership.
    I have had much to say about the LPC direction or lack of, so won’t waste your time now, but until we get off the fence and actually commit to something, that Canadians can believe in, we will stay in 3rd place or worst.

    My view, Canada’s resources should be handle something like it is in the UAE, to do business, no outsider can do business in the UAE without a “National(UAE)sponsor” maybe not to their extreme.

    Any non-Canadian company wanting government money has to sign over there property rights until they pay back the money plus interest in full. Have to pay a heavy pentality if they leave within “x” years of buying out a Canadian company.

    Any non-Canadian company trying buying Canadian technology should be parred from doing so.

    Resources should not be leaving Canadian shores to be processed in other jurisdictions.

    I know, all protect-ism views, but Canada is very weak in protecting its National interests and the Conservatives have everything on the discount table for sell, as long, as it makes them look good.
    We are acting like a third world country, begging anyone to come to help us with our development. Canada is one of the few countries in the world, that has it all, my view, we are squandering our advantage because of weak governace and letting “corporations” run the show.

    Is LPC the National party or not? Time to stand up and be counted!

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    • Avatar of Wolfgang Braun Wolfgang Braun said on

      ” We are still being stamped with “What do you (LPC) stand for?.” What makes you different from any other political party?” ”

      Excellent post Rick.

      What an organization stands for becomes its PURPOSE. To use a phrase from Roy Spence’s book “It’s not what you sell. It’s what you stand for. Every extraordinary organization is driven by PURPOSE.”

      CORE PURPOSE should be the LPC’s fundamental reason for being. An effective purpose must reflect the importance Canadians attach to the party’s work. Especially as a government. The LPC’s PURPOSE can become the PURPOSE of Government that Canadians are so desperately looking for these days.

      PURPOSE taps the party’s idealistic motivations and gets at the deeper reason for being… it taps the party’s idealistic existence beyond just making policy.

      The LPC must address PURPOSE and PRINCIPLES if it expects to be a voice for all Canadians. That discussion can begin right here amongst members and supporters.

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