At a campus meeting at the U of C, I had an opportunity to ask Alberta’s Finance Minister, Ted Morton, why Alberta was selling its natural resource to foreign state owned enterprises. I don’t pretend to know much about this subject but I was expecting to get a well informed answer as to why our leaders approved the sale of Conoco Phillips 10% stake in Syncrude to Sinopec for 4.6 billion dollars or why Encana was allowed to sell the equivalent of 20.8 million barrels of oil reserves to STX Energy, an unlisted Korean company… however, the answer I received was along the lines of, “I haven’t given that question enough thought to give a proper answer.” Our finance minister had not given enough thought as to why we are selling major stakes of our resource to other nations… directly. Does our national sovereignty mean anything at all?
Now BHP Billiton has made a hostile bid for the worlds major producer of potash in Sasketchewan. Next to the oilsands this is one of Canada’s most important strategic assets. Although it is true that BHP Billiton is a privately owned corporation, it seems to me that there is something rotten at the heart of our free market system. If, by free markets, we mean the freedom of citizens to build and grow and profit from their work, then I support free markets whole heartily. But free markets no longer belong to citizens but to corporations (or their state owned equivalents). There are many ways in which the interests of citizens and corporations intersect, but the sale of land and resources to foreign nations is not one of them.