A member of Australia's Parliament said Tuesday he hopes the Canadian government will reconsider its decision to block BHP Billiton's $40-billion bid to buy Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan.
Speaking on Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, MP Michael Danby, who chairs his Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said the Canadian government's preliminary decision to block the bid was "very, very surprising."
"I think you can’t selectively be a member of the World Trade Organization.... Either you believe in free trade or you don’t," he said.
Last Wednesday, Industry Minister Tony Clement said the proposed takeover would not benefit Canada, although he seemed willing to entertain a sweetened bid from the Anglo-Australian mining giant, saying that BHP Billiton had 30 days to make any additional representations and submit any undertakings before his final decision.
Danby said he hopes "that our Canadian friends reconsider this, because I think it creates an atmosphere around investment in Canada generally."
"Signs of tightening of the international market in a whole lot of areas during this global financial crisis replicate a bit what happened during the Great Depression," Danby continued. "Protectionism is not good for anyone."
The story has been front page news in Australia, Danby said.
He also noted the irony of Canada's Conservative government rejecting the bid.
"We're meant to be the socialists," he said, an allusion to the fact he is with Australia's Labor Party.