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Monday, February 23, 2009

The NDP squawk as the Conservatives get closer to selling crown assets

In November, the Western Standard reported that Winnipeg New Democrat MP Pat Martin sent a letter to Auditor General Sheila Fraser requesting a formal investigation into the October 31st, 2007 sale-leaseback agreement between the federal government and Larco Investments Limited. Seven federally-owned buildings were sold to Larco with agreements to lease them back directly to the federal government.

It’s a very typical arrangement that allows the seller, in this case the government, to get a hold of some cash, while incentivising the new buyer with a long term lease agreement in a soft rental market. While there is nothing improper about the Larco deal, Martin has been vigilant in monitoring the sale, or proposed sale, of crown assets ever since Prime Minister Harper’s Throne Speech promise to conduct a strategic review of all Crown corporations and assets.

Today, the New Democrat called for a moratorium on selling off Crown Corporations and public buildings until parliamentarians have an opportunity to review the government's plan. 

"In the last election, the Conservatives never once mentioned they planned a fire sale of crown assets," said NDP Treasury Board critic Martin. "This government has no mandate to peddle our national institutions to the highest bidder and New Democrats will fight this folly tooth-and-nail." 

According to the NDP, in the November Fiscal Update, and then repeated in the Budget, the government announced its intention to sell off government assets but provided no details. Since then, leaks have emerged that among the assets the government is looking at putting on the chopping block are Via Rail, the Royal Canadian Mint and Canada Post. 

Martin said he will bring this issue to the Government Operations Committee and will press the committee to hold the government to account. 

"I want the Minister to appear before our committee and come clean on his party's plan," said Martin. "It’s time the government came out of the shadows and levelled with Canadians about what's on the chopping block and why.

"In Manitoba we have seen Conservatives engage in a fire sale of assets, and both taxpayers and consumers were hurt by decisions like selling off MTS," said Martin. "We learned the hard way that there is simply no business case for privatizing most government assets. Selling off Via Rail or the royal Canadian Mint is driven by pure ideology, not sound economics,” concluded Martin.

For background on this story, read “Is the Harper Government serious about selling crown assets? And what should be done with the cash?” here.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on February 23, 2009 | Permalink

Comments

The government can keep the Mint, but the CBC has to go -- and the faster, the better. Individual Canadians have been giving the world "Canadian Content" without government help on the Internet for the last 15 years.

Posted by: Cory D. Schreyer | 2009-02-23 1:23:53 PM


RE: Selling off the CBC.

Most of those who argue in favour of selling off the CBC do so because they don't understand what they are watching. Without the government backed CBC we would be stuck with only the mind-numbing sub-standard broadcasting that we currently get. Could you imagine a world with only Fox News or CTV Newsnet? There is more reality on the show Survivor than those News Broadcasts.

Posted by: Shawn McPhee | 2009-02-23 1:59:26 PM


RE: Selling off the CBC.

Most of those who argue in favour of selling off the CBC do so because they don't understand what they are watching. Without the government backed CBC we would be stuck with only the mind-numbing sub-standard broadcasting that we currently get. Could you imagine a world with only Fox News or CTV Newsnet? There is more reality on the show Survivor than those News Broadcasts.

Posted by: Shawn McPhee | 2009-02-23 1:59:26 PM


Shawn

Surely a good anti-gun, enlightened PC socialist Canadian that you must be, wouldn't pitch for a Broadcast network that is so unpopular with voluntary viewers that it must be funded at gunpoint? Oh, I forgot that you are an enlightened PC socialist Canadian that knows what's best for everyone regardless of what they choose. Sorry for the questions, please don't turn me into the HRCs for political thought control classes.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-02-23 4:30:46 PM


The CBC should not be sold. It should be eradicated from the face of the earth. I suggest firing the entire staff on the same day, transfering its records to an archive under a 100 year seal, and destroying all infrastructure. It would be as if it never existed, except in the minds of its victims - Holocaust victims, veterans, and the taxpayer.

I recommend to those who oppose this to turn in their passports and leave the country forever.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-02-23 4:42:12 PM


Assuming there are buyers, the CBC (English and French) should be sold. They need to compete in the real world, especially since they do not represent the views of the majority of Canadians. Perhaps then Shawn could purchase it, especially since it would be like purchasing an echo chamber.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-02-23 6:55:41 PM


Shawn, if you give me enough money, I will come up with a product that will be better than anything else on the market. But why should those who don't want to support it, have to? Who should get to decide? Me, or those whom I would take money from to pay for my beautiful product?

Government and media are an "unholy alliance" that should be stopped at the earliest opportunity. I would take sub-standard broadcasting over government broadcasting any day.

Besides, the CBC distorts the market. The likes of CTV must pay expenses (payroll, advertising, etc.,) out of revenues, but do not have the benefit of governments handouts. Perhaps their "substandard" product would impove if the CBC had to make it or break it like them.

Posted by: TM | 2009-02-24 10:35:25 AM


CBC and Canada Post have been made irrelevant by the net. Sell it now to Al Jazeera or whoever while it still has some "value".

Posted by: epsilon | 2009-03-02 8:58:36 PM


Burn the CBC! It's the equivalent of the Bastille!

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-03-02 9:36:40 PM



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