ITQ Committee Liveblog Bonus: You have made a powerful enemy, Chairman Chong.

So, remember how Michael Chong kinda sorta took a cheap shot at RIM co-founder Mike Lazaridis just as he was finishing up his testimony before the Industry committee today? When he suggested that there seemed to be a double standard as far as his objections to the way the Nortel auction was handled, and his fellow co-founder Jim Balsillie’s objections to the NHL league auction process? And then instead of giving Lazaridis the chance to reply, he gaveled down and adjourned the meeting? Which ITQ thought was a little bit unfair, since it was sort of taking advantage of his chairmanly powers?

Anyway,  as we were filing out of the committee room this afternoon, we were greeted by a RIM official handing out copies of the following written response to Chong’s comments.

Your move, Chairman Chong:

August 7, 2009
The Honourable Michael Chong, M.P.
Chair
Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario

Dear Mr. Chong,

Thank you for allowing me to appear before the Industry Committee this morning. I appreciated the opportunity to make a statement, table a brief, and in particular to answer the questions posed to me. At the end of the session, as we ran out of time, you raised some important issues without giving me the chance to reply. As such, I would appreciate it if you could read this reply into the record before adjourning today.

First, I fully agree that foreign direct investment is extraordinarily important to Canada. I am a great believer in an open economy. Foreign direct investment cannot be totally unfettered and there are, and should, be limits for Canada, like there are for most countries. We have legislation in Canada that sets out the circumstances in which the government is required to review proposed foreign investments. As I stated in my opening remarks, I fully agree with what Minister Prentice said in May 2008 on behalf of the government:

“When it comes to decisions on whether foreign purchases represent a net benefit to Canada, my bottom line is this: Canada must retain jurisdiction and control over technologies that are vital to the future of our industry and the pursuit of our public policy objectives. We will not accept loss of jurisdictional control to another party.”

That is what today’s discussion is all about.

Second, you referred to proceedings in Arizona concerning the sale of a professional hockey team. With all due respect, the Ericsson -Nortel transaction and what it represents to Canada is in a very different league. I think we can all appreciate the importance of hockey to Canadians; however, the Arizona proceedings are irrelevant to the matters before this Committee today. We are here today to discuss Canada’s national security and national interests in relation to the knowledge economy of the 21 st century. The one parallel that can be made between the two bankruptcy court proceedings is that none of the bankruptcy courts in Arizona, Delaware or Ontario have the mandate or the authority to consider Canada’s national interests.

Third, in regard to your suggestion that RIM was looking to preclude other bidders and was seeking preferential pricing, I urge you to review and consider my earlier comments and submission. If RIM had been given a fair chance to participate in an auction, without being shut out of the opportunity to bid for other vital assets of primary importance to RIM, we would of course have accepted that the winner should be the one with the highest bid. To suggest otherwise is simply not true.

Having said all this, I remain of the view that Minister Clement’s stature is such that he can bring the parties together in good faith for a four-way discussion in order to fashion an outcome in the best interests of Canadians and of the companies involved.

Sincerely yours,

Mike Lazaridis

President and Co-Chief Executive Officer

cc – Members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology




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