Monday, October 25, 2010

The Importance of Protecting Potash

Well, after awhile of a break, here is my much long overdue post.

In Saskatchewan, and growing on a national stage, the talk everywhere today revolves around the issue of potash. As many of you are aware, there is an offer on the table by BPH to buy a controlling interest in PotashCorp. Now, when this deal first came to light months ago, there seemed to be a sense of "we'll go along with it" from the Wall Government.

Now, after reflection on the potential massive tax loss that will come from BPH owning PotashCorp (to the tune of a few billion dollars) and the increased resistance from Saskatchewan residents, the Wall Government now seems to have changed their mind. Instead of continuing their record of putting the needs and wants of business and foreign investment ahead of their own residents, the Wall Government now seems to want to be seen as actually caring about the province they're governing.

So, just to recap, the Wall Government basically was mum on the issue and effectively seemed ready to sign off on the sale to BPH; until a review announced that the province could potentially lose billions in tax revenue because of the deal. After all, it's hard to pretend you have the best interests of the province in mind when you willingly jumped on board a deal that cost our province billions of dollars. As such, it was not the discontent or the resistance of the people of Saskatchewan that changed the mind of the Wall Government.

I've spoken before about how this attitude does not allow anyone to properly govern; and how a government should be looking at the demands of the people who elected them as opposed to outside interests that produce short-term benefits for a select few while having a massive cost on the many years later. And yet, this is how the Wall Government has consistently acted.

So, why the sudden about face?

Perhaps it does have to do with the potential tax benefit loss, which makes a compelling argument, however, I would suggest something a bit more...nefarious.

Ultimately, the Wall Government has no say over whether or not this deal can go ahead. That decision rests with Industry Minister Tony Clement on the Federal level. So, if I'm Brad Wall and there's a potentially dangerous political 'hot potato' being passed around, chances are I'm going to look for the best way to get on the right side of the issue before it becomes to politically toxic.

And given the discontent of Saskatchewan people over this sale, the Wall Government now has an opening thanks to the issue resting with the Federal Government. In 2011, come the next election, the Wall Government can now have a 'feather in their cap' by talking about how they were against the sale of PotashCorp (should the sale be approved) and how they openly spoke out against it...

At the same time, they'll leave out the part where they dragged their feet for months on whether or not to support the deal, while the Saskatchewan New Democrats spoke out against the deal the moment people became aware of it. It's a dastardly political trick, and sadly, it's one that will work unless the majority of people in Saskatchewan were paying enough attention.

Ultimately, the Wall Government has found a way out of this issue. They are free to speak against it, and gain popular support for being against the sale, while also being free of any actual responsibility in regards to the sale.

The fact of the matter is this: The potash of Saskatchewan belongs to the people of Saskatchewan. As such, the development of this resource should be done in a manner which will ensure that the people of Saskatchewan benefit more than a company's bottom line. We should be bringing jobs into Saskatchewan, as opposed to worrying that many of the top jobs would be exported to Australia or the United States.

The people of Saskatchewan deserve to have a say in how our resources are developed, refined, and used. And sadly, that seems to be a sensible idea that the Wall Government has simply chosen to ignore.

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