Is The Public Interest More Important In Canada? - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Is The Public Interest More Important In Canada?

Published November 10, 2010

 While Iceland’s government stands by the sale of HS Orka to Magma Energy, Canada’s government this week blocked a similar sale of its own natural resources to a foreign company on the grounds that it was not in the public’s interest.
The sale would have seen BHP Billiton, an Anglo-Australian company running the world’s largest mining operation, taking over the Canadian company, Potash Corporation, which mines the mineral potash for the production of fertilizer.
“In Canada, our natural resources are an important economic driver,” Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement said in a BBC report. “I have come to the conclusion that BHP Billiton does not present a likely net benefit to Canada.”
Following this news, Björk Guðmundsdóttir, Jón Þórisson and Oddný Eir Ævarsdóttir, the trio spearheading the campaign against the Magma Energy sale, sent out a press release drawing attention to a similar conclusion reached in Iceland regarding the Magma deal.
“The Magma Energy Committee which looked into the Magma Energy Sweden AB purchase of HS Orka – the third largest energy company in Iceland – reported that the sale goes against Icelander’s desires for their natural resources, and is not in the public’s long-term interest,” the press release stated.
“Although the sale does not in actuality break any laws, the sale goes against the goal and spirit of the laws. It also sets precedence for other private companies to take advantage of Iceland’s natural resources at a time when we need to use them wisely, for their sake and our own.”
As previously reported by the Grapevine, Ross Beaty has been likened to Björk for his expressed disapproval of this foreign company coming in and buying up PotashCorp:
“When asked by SqueezePlay what he thought of Australian mining giant BHP Billiton’s bid to take over PotashCorp Beaty was rather direct, saying, “I hate it, to be honest! I hate it! I hate losing these big companies from Canada. This is a global treasure, PotashCorp. Just like Inco and Falcon Ridge and Alcan were lost to foreign investors… I hate it because having a big head office in Canada really brings a tremendous amount to Canada and to Canada’s role as a global mining country.”
When asked to comment on the Canadian government’s actions, Magma Energy Iceland CEO Ásgeir Margeirsson told us the Potash deal has nothing to do with Magma Energy in Iceland. “It’s completely different. It’s a completely different industry.”

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