Europe knows Canada isn't really open for business -

Europe knows Canada isn’t really open for business

The Conservatives’ patchwork rules on foreign ownership aren’t helping CETA negotiations, argues Colin Campbell


In its ongoing free trade talks with Europe, Ottawa is reportedly offering to lift foreign investment restrictions on takeovers by European firms: Deals worth less than $1.5 billion would no longer be up for government review. This comes after its omnibus budget bill that raised the threshold for reviewing foreign takeovers to those worth over $1 billion, up from $344 million. All this suggests that Canada is more open than ever to foreign ownership, as it should be: it brings more competition and more investment dollars into the economy. But Ottawa’s actual track record tells a very different story.

Last week, the Globe and Mail reported the government is trying to delay the takeover of the wireless carrier Wind Mobile by VimpelCom. The deal would create a Russian controlled firm that uses Chinese infrastructure. That, it seems, is way more foreign ownership than the government bargained for when it declared last year (in the interest of boosting competition in the sector) that carriers with less than 10 per cent of the market could be wholly foreign owned. The big telecoms, Telus, Bell and Rogers (which owns this magazine), are still limited to 46.7 per cent foreign ownership.

Before that, there was Ottawa’s handling of the $15-billion takeover of Nexen by China’s state-owned CNOOC. The deal was approved this year, but the government said it would be the last of its kind—a decision it may regret as the oil sands industry searches for more capital. And before that, the Tories nixed BHP Billiton’s $40-billion bid to buy Potash Corp. in 2009. The result: BHP decided to start building a rival mine, which would be the world’s biggest if it opens (potash prices have since collapsed, raising questions about the project). There are plenty of other sectors where Ottawa still bans foreign competition outright. Like the airline industry, a consumer-unfriendly duopoly between West-Jet and Air Canada where foreign ownership is limited to 25 per cent.

Since taking power, the Tories have made a show of declaring Canada open for business. But their patchwork of rules and seat-of-the-pants decisions sends a much more powerful message, one Europe won’t ignore as free trade talks continue.


Europe knows Canada isn’t really open for business

  1. Canada has to get over the dog-in-the-manger attitude.

    • You need to get over yourself.

      • Poor Ricky. Your party is falling apart, nobody wants your sludge, and you’re frightened of the world….so you attack other posters.

  2. Europe isn’t open for business either. Both organizations have protectionist French agriculture and the EU uses environmental rules as a way to block trade.

    • Amazing how little Canadians know about the world, and how many pet hates they have.

      • Isn’t it amazing how somebody sticks like glue to one media outlet and believe they know everything.

        • Is THAT what you’re doing? No wonder you’re always unaware of what’s going on.

          • Listen lady – I happened to subscribe to several European newspapers. If they could can ignorance it would be you.

          • Mmm well here’s the thing. European newspapers aren’t any better than our own.

  3. Thank you.
    I’ve never understood why the press, for over 7 years running, has accepted at face value, the continued mythology from the Conservatives that they’re handling the economy well. Many either didn’t bother to check the record, or didn’t know enough about economics to understand otherwise. Even worse, some were simply assuming that any party that calls themselves “Conservative” must, by definition, be better than any other party at economics.
    Well, what we’ve seen is that, compared to any other previous era (whether under Liberal or Conservative government), these last 7 years have been among the worst. Sure, defenders of the government will say that the world economy has changed since the Great Recession. And the fact that our economy is growing at less than 2% a year despite being 5 years removed from the recession can’t be blamed on the government.
    But that’s just denial. Even if our economic woes were due to global factors, the government has done squat to change our economy to adapt to the new reality. Despite starting out with much more serious economic problems, the US and the EU are making major changes to their economies to adapt. They will be better equipped to compete effectively in the new global economy. But in Canada, outside of championing the oil sands gravy train, much of our economy is stuck in the last century.
    What our economy, and our nation, sorely lacks is not more tax credits or empty rhetoric about “open for business”. What we lack is political vision, and political courage.

    • Most of our damage was done before the crisis…..when the surplus was blown on stupidity, and the GST was cut.

      But then we had an ‘economist’ PM who didn’t see a recession coming

      The damage continues because he’s trying to live in the 50s, and on primary resources

  4. Just wait till America self-destructs itself.

    Canada will follow next. Take your vacations and make your wills.