Terasen Sale Must Be Snuffed
Date: Wednesday, September 21 2005
By Murray Dobbin
Published: September 19, 2005
No other developed country in the world has squandered control of its energy resources the way Canadian governments -- federal and provincial -- have done and continue to do.
The first major betrayal was the signing of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement in which Canada agreed to guarantee the US an ever increasing proportion of our oil and gas, a proportion that can never be decreased even if Canada starts running short for its own needs.
The latest example is the breathtakingly stupid decision regarding Terasen Gas now being considered by the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC). If things go as Gordon Campbell's Liberals hope, the seventh largest corporation in BC will be sold off to Kinder Morgan, a US company with a terrible environmental record. And with it will go any influence over the company's investment priorities -- priorities which will inevitably conform to the American government's obsession with energy security.
Campbell signaled his betrayal of BC interests in 2003 when he changed the legislation governing the privatization of BC Gas, a crown corporation. When it was first privatized by Bill Vander Zalm's Social Credit government, the legislation limited the number of non-BC directors, and the percentage of shares that could be owned by one shareholder (10 percent). Perhaps, most importantly, in a world marked by fierce competition for energy resources, the old legislation stated that foreigners could own no more than 20 percent and that the company headquarters had to be in BC.
All those provisions were wiped out by Campbell after intensive lobbying by Terasen executives and some $50,000 in political donations to the provincial Liberals. Even the pro-business Vander Zalm was moved to ask the obvious question: "Where's the whole concept of BC first...?"