Sunday, November 14, 2010

At Issue: Saskatchewan Potash.

CBC's at issue panel discusses the hostile takeover bid by BHP Billiton for PotashCorp and the province's response here.

My take is that Coyne makes the typical free-market argument, seemingly forgetting that this isn't merely a product, made with bought resources that's at the heart of the issue, but rather natural resources, of which Provincial governments actually have a mandate to responsibly handle. Coyne also horribly misrepresents Saskatchewan's position on the matter completely ignoring the economics that are driving the province's opposition to the sale.

Gregg seems to understand the controversy a bit better, pointing out the strategic value and provincial economic impact the sale would affect. Other than bemoaning the "abandonment of free-market values" that the sale would represent, Coyne completely fails to make a compelling case for why the Federal government wouldn't listen to the province on this particular matter.

The slippery slope he proposes of Federalism falling apart and the blocking of the sale resulting in the federal government losing its ability to, in the future, deny provincial requests is a bizarre one, as simply denying the province's wishes on how a natural resource ought to be handled doesn't in any way preclude the federal government ignoring other requests when it might be in its best interest to do so. Coyne's assumption that what's in the best interest of the federal government is a Milton Friedman hands-off, let the invisible hand work its magic approach is disputable at best, as recent world economic history has left the banner of a pure free market being held by the most wild-eyed and zealous true believers. In fact, what played a large part in protecting Canada from the economic disaster being felt much more painfully in other parts of the world was a departure from Hayekian economic theory and with a goodly lot of regulation and economic interference by the federal government.

Does Coyne really think that Canadians are that forgetful or unaware of the dangers of what he's using his position in the media to advocate?

On a related note, I'd like to welcome both PM Stephen Harper and Premier Brad Wall to the socialists club. Don't fret... your Machiavellian bases love political power too much to make either one of you politically bleed for your embracing of central economic planning and interference in the free market / private sector.

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