REGINA—The federal rubber stamp given yesterday for Swiss-based Glencore’s $7 billion bid to takeover Regina-based Viterra shines a spotlight again on the serious weaknesses that plague Canada’s foreign investment rules and procedures, said Deputy Liberal Leader Ralph Goodale today.
“The Harper government promised to fix these problems nearly two years ago, right after the controversial attempt by a foreign firm to buyout Saskatchewan’s potash industry,” said Mr. Goodale. “The Conservatives were warned that other big takeover transactions were likely in the grain industry and in other sectors, but they have done nothing in two years but repeat the promises they have failed to keep.”
Mr. Goodale has repeatedly asked in Parliament if the government’s review of the Glencore/Viterra deal included any examination of Glencore’s contentious business practices. Liberals are also calling for the following:
- more clarity in what constitutes a “net benefit” to Canada as the test any proposed transaction must meet,
- greater transparency regarding the issues being discussed between companies and the government during the review process,
- complete disclosure of any conditions attached to a proposed deal,
- an enforcement mechanism (such as posting bonds) that ensures conditions are upheld,
- a clear role for affected provincial governments and
- specific ways in which the public can express their views during the review process.
“With innovations like these, Canadians would have greater confidence that the public interest is truly being served but right now the whole process is behind closed doors and none of the company’s undertakings are readily enforceable,” Mr. Goodale said. “And with the greatest respect, a Harper Minister saying ‘trust me, I’ll do what’s right’ is not very reassuring.”
Mr. Goodale also reiterated farmers’ deep concerns about the risk of anti-competitive situations resulting from this transaction, especially in the farm input supply business.