Thursday, September 02, 2010

On notable omissions

It isn't much surprise that the Wall government has decided to put a corporate front group in charge of advising it on a possible potash takeover. But it's remarkable just how brazen the Sask Party is being in declaring that as far as it's concerned, nothing matters but big business:
The Saskatchewan government has commissioned the Conference Board of Canada to complete a report to understand the implications for Saskatchewan of a proposed takeover of PotashCorp.

1. The report will identify general risks to and opportunities for:
- All aspects of potash industry employment in Saskatchewan;
- Revenues of the Government of Saskatchewan including royalty revenue, corporate tax
revenue, indirect revenue;
- Saskatchewan's strategic position in the international potash industry; and
- Saskatchewan's reputation for a positive investment climate.
Now, some of us might think that a provincial government should have some interest in figuring out how a takeover would affect the scope of future policymaking, or that it might be worth considering the interests of Saskatchewan's citizens as the ultimate owner of our potash resources. But instead, the provincial government is mentioned solely from the perspective of "revenue", while the long-term interests of Saskatchewan's people are left out altogether.

But while mere people apparently don't rate a mention in the Sask Party's terms of reference, a "reputation for a positive investment climate" is proclaimed to be an explicit end goal. (Though I suppose the Wall government does tend to see that as the polar opposite of giving people any say in how their province is governed.)

Now, one might want to excuse the Sask Party by suggesting that those questions should be dealt with elsewhere. But the report is supposed to cover the "implications for Saskatchewan", full stop. And based on the Sask Party's track record, there's no reason to think it'll do anything but take a corporate-focused report as the definitive word on the subject.

Which means that the Wall government's hand-picked terms of reference create an inescapable conclusion that it doesn't see Saskatchewan's citizens as having any legitimate interest in how their publicly-owned natural resources are managed.

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