|Stephen Harper loves Chinese capitalism|
The takeovers approved
Stephen Harper, while approving these two takeovers, announced that in the future state-owned corporations would be limited to minority ownership in corporations operating in the Alberta tar sands. Foreign-owned corporations dominate this sector of the Canadian eonomy. The message from the media's financial analysts was that "it is business as usual outside of the oil sands."
The federal NDP under the leadership of Thomas Mulcair opposed the takeovers. But they have taken a position no different from that of the Liberal Party. The Harper government did not hold public hearings. They are ignoring public opinion on the issue. There is no guarantee that these state-owned corporations will keep their promises. The public does not know the record of the operations of these corporations in other countries.
But the federal NDP has no general natural resource policy that is different from that of the Harper government. Peter Julian, speaking for the NDP in the House of Commons, has stated that “foreign investments are crucial for re-enforcing our economy.” Is this true of the oil and gas industry? How do they finance their new investments in Canada? Why has the NDP been unable to come up with a real alternative national energy policy? The Parkland Institute in Edmonton has produced one. In the past, public opinion polls have indicated that a high percentage of Canadians would support a policy goal of Canadian ownership and control of the oil and gas industry. Is this too radical for the NDP?
Saskatchewan policy on natural resources
Stephen Harper told the press last Friday: “To be blunt, Canadians have not spent years reducing ownership of sectors of the economy by our own governments only to see them bought and controlled by foreign governments instead.” This reference would seem to include the decisions by the Grant Devine, Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert governments to privatize the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Corporation, the natural gas sector in the province developed by Sask Power Corporation, as well as the developments by the Allan Blakeney NDP government (1971-82) to gain some ownership and control of the potash, uranium and forestry sectors.
Nexen currently owns and operates 1322 natural gas wells in Southwest Saskatchewan. These natural gas wells were part of Sask Oil when it was a Crown Corporation and are now going back under state ownership. In 1986 majority control of Sask Oil was privatized by Grant Devine’s Conservative government. The new owners changed the name to Wascana Energy. In 1988 the Devine government sold Sask Power’s natural gas holdings in Alberta to Wascana Energy for $325 million; the market price at the time indicated that the natural gas was actually worth $984 million. Wascana Energy was then bought by Occidental Petroleum Corporation of California. Nexen was spun off in order to use it to invest in Yemen, which prohibited ownership in the oil and gas industry by U.S. corporations.