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UPDATE: Council of Canadians concerned by BHP Billiton’s takeover bid of the PCS

I’ve just completed an interview with the BBC World Service on the hostile bid by the Australian transnational BHP Billiton to takeover the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.

The Council of Canadians is concerned by the hollowing out of our economy as foreign corporations increasingly control Canadian industry.

We believe that a fundamental question should be, how would BHP Billiton’s ownership of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan benefit the people of Saskatchewan?

Already a Conference Board of Canada study has found that Saskatchewan could lose $2-billion in revenue over the next decade if BHP Billiton gains control. And it should be remembered had the PCS not been privatized in the first place, the people of Saskatchewan could own today a $39 billion asset.

There are also concerns about potash royalties and profits leaving the country. The provincial NDP is seeking guarantees that royalty arrangements would benefit the province. Several Aboriginal groups are also looking at a court challenge on claiming their fair share of the province’s potash revenues.

The Council of Canadians also has concerns about the environmental regulations relating to the mining of potash. The NDP is now arguing that corporate operations should be registered under Canadian law so that those operations are subject to Canada’s laws and regulations.

Overall our concern is that the less Canadians own or control their own economy, the less political control we have to make decisions in the best interests of people and the environment.

Maude Barlow said in late-August, when this bid was first announced, that, “This is the wrong way to go. When you hand over all the power over these resources to international investors, be they backed by a large country or just private investors, you lose control, you lose the ability to take care of your local economy, your local environment.”

BHP Billiton has set November 18 as the deadline for its takeover bid.