"Harper's Nexen Decision Puts the Ball in Premier Brad Wall’s Court" - Erin Weir
Sask NDP leadership candidate Erin Weir is calling for the provincial government to prepare for Chinese ownership of Nexen, which has 1,300 producing natural gas wells in Saskatchewan according to its last annual report.
“The federal Conservative decision to approve the Nexen takeover means that provincial governments must manage Chinese-state ownership of our natural resources,” said Weir. “Prime Minister Harper has put the ball in Premier Wall’s court.”
Harper’s statement approving the takeover acknowledged, “The larger purposes of state-owned enterprises may go well beyond the commercial objectives of privately owned companies.” In national TV commentary and a feature interview printed in Saskatchewan newspapers the week the Nexen bid was announced, Weir raised concerns that a company owned by the Chinese government might aim to supply Saskatchewan resources to China at lower prices.
Lower prices would normally mean lower royalty revenues for Saskatchewan people. However, the provincial government has the authority to prescribe the price to which royalties apply.
“We should strengthen the Ministry of Energy and Resources’ monitoring capacity so that it can step in if a foreign government under-prices our commodities,” said Weir. “Unfortunately, the Sask. Party government has said nothing about the Nexen takeover or how it will respond.”
Harper’s statement also included the following line: “Canadians have not spent years reducing the ownership of sectors of the economy by our own governments, only to see them bought and controlled by foreign governments instead.” However, that is happening in Saskatchewan, as Weir noted in a letter to the editor printed in the July 25 Globe and Mail. “Privatization” shifted SaskOil from being owned by our provincial government to being part of Nexen, which will now be controlled by the Chinese government.