Canada needs less foreign ownership, not more—report

January 22, 2008

OTTAWA—Removing Canada’s existing foreign ownership restrictions would be a big mistake, says the author of a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The report, by University of Toronto economist and CCPA Research Associate Mel Watkins, argues that more foreign ownership is not the answer to Canada’s economic problems.

“Ownership restrictions in banking and finance, telecommunication, cultural industries and airlines should be maintained and indeed expanded to other strategic sectors like oil and gas, especially the Alberta tar sands.” says professor Watkins, author of the federal government’s 1968 report on foreign ownership.

In light of concerns about prices, global warming, Canada’s energy security, and adding value to resources, all Canadians would benefit from public interest regulation and Canadian ownership.

“Any policy that would put the Canadian financial sector under American ownership seems foolish,” Watkins says. “It would have facilitated the spread of the malpractices of a deregulated American mortgage market into Canada.”

Watkins also calls for tougher review of foreign takeovers. For example, MDA’s sale of its aerospace branch to U.S. Alliant Techsystems (maker of land mines and other armaments) represents the loss of a strategic government-funded technology, and may well violate the Canadian-sponsored global land mines treaty.

“What may be at stake is not only the hollowing-out of the Canadian corporate decision- making but the further hollowing-out of the Canadian sovereignty and democracy,” Watkins concludes.


Why Foreign Ownership Still Matters in 2008 is available on the CCPA web site at It was submitted to the government-appointed panel on competition and foreign ownership policy.

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.