Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Saskatchewan Opposes BHP Billiton

On October 5, 2010 I wrote about BHP Billiton’s bid to buy PotashCorp on this blog.  I came to the following conclusion in the final paragraph; “It’s a tough call, but either way you can count on the provincial and federal governments being too involved in business and our lives regardless of their respective ideologies.” This is currently unfolding as Saskatchewan’s Premier, Brad Wall has came out against the take over bid by BHP and now his government is fully engaged in attempting to convince the federal government to block BHP and save PotashCorp.

Here is some history now worth considering. The SaskParty was formed as a coalition of progressive conservatives and liberals. This was done in conjunction with placing the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan in hiatus for a couple of elections to give the SaskParty a chance to succeed. I never supported the manner in how this all came to pass. The Progressive Conservative Party and the SaskParty are still fighting over this and even in the courts over power and money. Either way, it proceeded, and in part, to distance the provincial conservatives in Saskatchewan from former Premier Grant Devine (who Brad Wall consulted with regarding BHP) and, in part, to isolate the SaskParty from decisions made by whomever was in power in Ottawa. I attended a meeting in Regina one-morning years ago with Stephen Harper who referred to the SaskParty as his fair weather friends. The snow arrived in Saskatchewan today and that is not fair weather. Will the Prime Minister see the BHP issue as fair weather and support the SaskParty’s effort to block BHP Billiton?

Further, will all the conservative MP’s finally speak out and back the SaskParty or will they continue to allow themselves to be muzzled by Stephen Harper? Remember how Harper left the Saskatchewan MP’s dangling in the wind over the Income Trust Fund issue?

Will MP Andrew Scheer finally break his silence and support his good friend Jeremy Harrison who is a former defeated conservative MP now serving in the Cabinet of the SaskParty government. Harrison is the MLA for Meadow Lake. He is also accompanying minister Bill Boyd in an attempt to lobby the federal government to stop the BHP take over bid. The time could not be better for Andrew Scheer to hook up with his old friend Jeremy Harrison and support the SaskParty.

Regardless, the BHP Billiton issue will define how closely aligned the federal conservatives and the SaskParty are when it comes to making major decisions. Interestingly, the best support the SaskParty has had in Ottawa has come from the one and only liberal MP in Saskatchewan, Ralph Goodale. Is Saskatchewan really open for business under the conservatives and on what terms? I guess we will soon find out!