More Clement on US Steel
To my surprise, the Harper Conservatives seem to again be breaking new ground in enforcing the Investment Canada Act. This afternoon, the Industry Minister announced that he is taking US Steel to court for violating its commitments.
Back in May, my union argued that the federal government must be prepared to take US Steel to court. Terence Corcoran mocked this advice at the time, but the government now appears to be following it.
UPDATE (July 18): Quoted by The Toronto Star
Here is our response to the news:
Steelworkers Union Applauds Clementâ€™s Actions Regarding U.S. Steel
Toronto, 17 July 2009 – Following United Steelworkersâ€™ numerous calls for legal action by Industry Minister Tony Clement against U.S. Steel for failing to live up to their commitments under the Investment Canada Act, the Government of Canada has announced they have taken U.S. Steel to court over production cutbacks.
â€œWe applaud the Minister and the Government for todayâ€™s action,â€ said Ken Neumann, National Director of United Steelworkers. â€œItâ€™s about time this Minister followed through on his obligation to protect Canada by insisting foreign companies live up to the commitments they make with the federal government to provide a â€œnet benefitâ€ to Canada.â€
Canadians count on companies moving into Canada to provide good jobs and sustainable communities while remaining competitive. It is important that companies operating in Canada provide this â€œnet benefitâ€ by adequately funding pensions, honouring their collective agreements, maintaining a productive bargaining relationships, demonstrating commitment to the community by making capital investments, and ensuring the facilities are economically viable over the long term, and avoid layoffs whenever possible.
â€œCanada needs to send a strong message that foreign companies can not take over our industries and control our resources without living up to the moral and legal obligations they have to the people of Canada,â€ added Neumann.
U.S. Steelâ€™s situation is not alone. Vale Inco is also a foreign company that has bought a large Canadian company, and therefore has to meet the â€œnet benefitâ€ threshold. It is up to the federal government to ensure this criterion is upheld in this case as well.
In addition to the legal action, it is important for Minister Clement to take two further actions.
USW is also calling on Clement to disclose the details of US Steel’s commitments in gaining federal approval to take over Stelco. “In future, reviews of proposed foreign takeovers should be more transparent and include a full opportunity for working people to participate in the process,â€ said Neumann
We also believe the government should put some teeth into the Investment Canada Act. As we have requested for years, there should be a parliamentary review of Canada’s rules on foreign investment and how they are implemented and enforced,” suggested Neumann.
â€œCanadian natural resources and Canadian companies should be regulated in a way that benefits Canadians â€“ foreign investment review is an important part of that,â€ reinforced Neumann.