Ralph Goodale discusses how we need to do more to stand up for Saskatchewan's potash industry...
CANADA MUST DEFEND SASKATCHEWAN’S INTERESTS
When it comes to potash, what’s right for Saskatchewan must prevail!
Except for one smaller mine in Atlantic Canada, the entire Canadian potash industry is located in Saskatchewan. It is a multi-billion-dollar sector with the largest potash reserves in the world. And while prairie soils don’t require much of it right here at home (yet), Saskatchewan potash fertilizer is crucial to food production worldwide.
This industry represents a big chunk of the provincial economy, and as we learned recently, market fluctuations in potash can shift Saskatchewan’s balance-sheet from surplus to deficit in the twinkling of an eye.
So, if any transaction materializes for the sale of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan – by far the biggest industry player – it must be reviewed by the Government of Canada under the Investment Canada Act to achieve what is best for Saskatchewan, not just some vague “net benefit” to Canada.
Furthermore, the federal government must be far more public and transparent in analyzing any potash deal than it has been on many other recent resource industry takeovers. Some of those deals have gone badly sideways, like US-Steel in Hamilton and Vale-Inco in Sudbury.
With respect to potash, secrecy won’t do! Saskatchewanians and Canadians need to know what the government’s analysis is, how “net benefits” are determined, and what conditions or performance guarantees are demanded by the feds.
Moreover, there must be tangible, enforceable remedies available to Saskatchewan if any condition or guarantee is breached.
But before any proposed transaction gets that far – and beyond routine assurances about office locations, jobs, investment plans, community contributions, new technology, environmental standards, etc. – Saskatchewan needs to be absolutely guaranteed that any potash marketing strategy under any new ownership will be at least as beneficial to Saskatchewan as that which exists today.
If that’s not rock-solid, where’s any “net benefit”?