Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« Fewer Canadians believe in God: Poll | Main | Five interesting (and debatable) comments by (or for) Canadians »

Monday, April 13, 2009

Michael Ignatieff comments on foreign ownership

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Michael Ignatieff held a townhall in the economically troubled steel town. A union boss complained that foreigners were making business decisions that affected Canadian workers. I found Ignatieff’s response to the issue of foreign ownership interesting.

At first he made me cringe by saying "I don't want to say that foreign ownership isn't a factor (in the decay of the steel companies)." Why can’t you say that? How has foreign ownership harmed the steel industry? The Liberal Party has a tendency towards economic xenophobia that I always find worrisome.

Then Mr. Ignatieff continued, "All I'm saying is when I talk to a foreign owner, he gets it. He understands that Hamilton has been a good location to make steel for a very long time and there isn't any very good reason why it shouldn't be a good location in the future."

That is to say that foreign ownership operates with the exact same incentives as domestic ownership. They want to make money. Profit is the sole goal of any business no matter where in the world it comes from. A domestically owned company is therefore just as likely to shut down factories as a foreign owned company.

Mr. Ignatieff’s statement suggests that he understands this at least somewhat, but such an understanding contradicts the first part of his statement. He refused to rule out foreign ownership as being a contributor to the decline of the Canadian steel industry. This was a politically prudent thing to do, considering the audience that he was trying to reach. Yet this political prudence indicates that he is willing, if the political situation calls for it, to fuel the fires of Canada’s not latent enough economic xenophobia.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on April 13, 2009 | Permalink


What makes anyone think a Canadian owned company will have any more or less attachment than a foreign one?

Iggy won't last long with this attitude: the privileged elites in Toronto don't like dissenters who disrespect their natural claim to authority.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-04-13 1:28:11 PM

Great post, Hugh.

I would take Michael Ignatieff's prudence -- given the audience and the economic climate -- as a good sign.

Global trade seems to be surviving this recession and the political reaction to it. We might see executive pay caps and a mountain of costly new regulations, but global trade should survive better than private banking at least as a concept.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-04-13 6:04:18 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.