Sale of Terasen Gas

The Hon. David Emerson, P.C. M.P., Minister of Industry
Room 781, Confederation Building, House of Commons
Ottawa, K1A 0A6

Dear Minister,

We are writing on behalf of British Columbians who are gravely concerned about the takeover of Terasen Inc. by Texas-based energy company Kinder Morgan. Under the Investment Canada Act, you are required to conduct a review as to whether this US $6.9 billion transaction would be a net benefit to Canada. To that end, we are calling on you to use your powers under the Act to intervene and stop this sale until appropriate public hearings can determine whether or not this sale is in the interests of British Columbians and Canadians.

The NDP have heard from British Columbians who are deeply outraged about this takeover. We do not believe that the transaction is in Canada’s best interest for the following reasons: Kinder Morgan has been connected to repeated maintenance and safety violations in company owned pipelines in the United States. The company owner is the ex-president of Enron Corporation.

In a world where demand for energy is on the rise, it is important for Canada to remain in control of its natural resources, particularly oil and gas. Maintaining Canadian control and ownership of our energy resources, including transportation and distribution, is crucial to our sovereignty and to the well being of Canadians. In the current context of a rising demand for natural gas in the US, the sale of Terasen to Kinder Morgan, an American corporation, will increase the incentive to sell all of our oil and gas to the US, impede diversification and cut off overseas markets such as China and Japan.

The market for Canadian energy resources will therefore become more captive and constrained, which would also lead to the abandonment of consumer price regulation in BC and ever increasing prices of gas to Canadian consumers. Terasen is also in the business of supplying wholesale water and waterworks systems. Since your government has refused to exempt water exports from the service agreement of the WTO and has not included water in the list of exempted goods in NAFTA, the current sale would increase the incentive for Terasen to find ways around the bulk water restrictions by massively exporting bottled water, and likely increase the current abuse by bottling companies and industrial operations of our ecosystem.

The federal government has been traditionally committed to encourage Canadian ownership, particularly of our strategic assets. Under NAFTA we have seen these energy resources increasingly profiting foreign multinationals. Your government has created a one way street, where the privatisation and the sale of our Canadian assets to foreigners cannot be reversed or challenged, since any attempt by the federal government to implement made-in-Canada policies that could affect foreign ownership would be challenged.

More than 11,000 Canadian companies have been lost to foreign ownership since 1985 under the liberal and conservative governments, and not one takeover has been rejected, even though 97% of the acquisitions have been takeovers with resulting job losses.

Canada is losing control of the production, transportation and distribution of its natural resources, which are at the heart of our existence as an independent nation.

Moreover, when a company of such strategic importance is acquired by an American company, Canada loses leverage over that company which will then have the support of the US government. This complicates policy decisions and is illustrated more starkly in Latin American countries where US multinationals frequently appeal to their government to support them in actions opposed by local governments.

Terasen must not become another example of your government’s inability to defend Canadian interests. The NDP believes strongly that Terasen, a company built with public funds, should remain in Canadian hands, and must not be sacrificed to satisfy the greed of a handful of senior executives who stand to profit by the millions by cashing in their stock options.

We are calling on you to intervene in order to hear from British Columbians and other Canadians who are concerned that such a sale will result in higher heating costs and a larger loss of our sovereignty over our natural resources.

We urge you to conduct a vigorous and comprehensive review of this sale, and to broaden its criteria to include a reference to the public interest and to our sovereignty.

Sincerely,

Libby Davies MP,
Vancouver East

Peter Julian MP,
Burnaby-New Westminster

Bill Siksay MP,
Burnaby-Douglas

This Open Letter to Ministers & Public Officials was posted on November 25, 2005
Categorized: