Ottawa To Review U. S. Takeover Of Terasen

Posted on Saturday, October 22 at 12:44 by 4Canada
Mr. Emerson's decision to recuse himself comes after Terasen shareholders overwhelmingly approved the controversial takeover by Kinder Morgan, a Houston-based pipeline operator, at a meeting in Vancouver on Tuesday. The acquisition is widely seen as a strategic move by Kinder Morgan to gain a broad foothold in the Alberta tar-sands industry and to give Terasen more capital to expand the pipeline side of its business. However, it has sparked a firestorm of criticism from citizens and politicians who worry about the ramifications of a U.S. firm gaining control of a Canadian company that supplies natural gas to 870,000 B.C. residents. "We do not want the possibility that the U.S.A. Patriot Act will give the American government access to our billing records via Kinder Morgan," said David Askew, a member of the Vancouver chapter of the Council of Canadians. Corky Evans, a B.C. New Democratic Party MLA, said the B.C. Utilities Commission, which is also reviewing the sale, should open up the transaction to public hearings before Canada's third-largest utility is sold to a U.S. company. "This is about whether or not Canadians should be able to have a conversation about Canada before we sell a chunk of it," he said. A spokesman for Mr. Emerson said Ottawa doesn't usually issue a statement to say that it is reviewing a transaction like the one involving Terasen. However, he said the decision to do so was due, in part, to criticism of the deal. "I'm told that the B.C. Utilities Commission has received something like 5,000 e-mails on this, almost universally opposed," the spokesman said. "They tend to come from Canadian nationalists who don't want to see the company sold into foreign hands.'' Industry Canada has issued a statement saying there is an ongoing review of the transaction under the Investment Canada Act, which gives the federal government the ability to negotiate enforceable commitments with the investor during the review process. It also said that acquisitions that are subject to review under the act receive approval only when they demonstrate a net benefit to Canada. Yesterday, B.C. Energy Minister Richard Neufeld said he preferred to offer no opinion on the transaction, saying it is up to the B.C. Utilities Commission to determine whether it is in the best interests of the citizens of British Columbia. [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on October 25, 2005]

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