Goodale, Baird spar over PotashCorp

There were some verbal skirmishes in Parliament Friday over the future of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.
MP Ralph Goodale accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of being blatantly biased after Harper 'maligned PotashCorp as non-Canadian.' ((CBC))
There were some verbal skirmishes in Parliament Friday over the future of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.

A day after Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall told a Regina audience he opposed Australian conglomerate BHP Billiton taking over the company, the proposed deal was debated by federal politicians during question period.

Saskatchewan Liberal MP Ralph Goodale said Prime Minister Stephen Harper was "dismissive" of Saskatchewan's opinion and said Harper has already made up his mind about letting the deal go ahead.

Under the Investment Canada Act, the federal government has the final say on whether the $38.6-billion US proposal proceeds.

Goodale said Harper made "blatantly biased" remarks about the proposed deal earlier in the week.

On Wednesday, Harper said the government would listen to all sides on the matter, then added, "Mr. Speaker, as you know, this is the proposal for an American-controlled company to be taken over by an Australian-controlled company."

PotashCorp has offices in Saskatoon and Chicago.

Government House Leader John Baird said it's a fact that PotashCorp is 51 per cent owned by non-Canadians. ((CBC))
"Even before the government heard the premier's advice, the prime minister tainted the process," Goodale said. "He maligned PotashCorp as non-Canadian."

Government House Leader John Baird didn't agree.

"I think the prime minister just pointed out the facts, that some 51 per cent of the shares of this company are owned by non-Canadians," Baird said.

Wall said in his speech that 49 per cent of PotashCorp shares are held by Canadians, 38 per cent are owned by Americans and the rest by people from other countries.

"The prime minister's taint and bias are unmistakable," Goodale said. "He is going to impose his opinion on Saskatchewan, no matter what and the premier says that is going to put jobs, investment and public revenues at risk — $5.7 billion."

Baird said that the government is doing a rigorous review of the proposed deal and will only approve it if it's of net benefit to Canada.

A decision is expected by Nov. 3.