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Canada Blocks Sale of Space Tech Company To US 230

Posted by kdawson
from the no-dice-eh dept.
Dave Knott writes "The Canadian federal government has blocked the $1.3-billion sale of the space technology division of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates to Alliant Techsystems, a major US defense contractor. Industry Minister Jim Prentice is quoted as saying he is 'not satisfied' the sale will be a net benefit for Canada. MDA is Canada's leading developer of space-based technology, including the famous CanadArm and the recently installed space station robot Dextre."
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Canada Blocks Sale of Space Tech Company To US

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  • Net benefit? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xelios (822510) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @04:11PM (#23048706)
    How is the sale of a Canadian company to US interests ever a net benefit for Canada? I've lost track of the companies that used to be Canadian owned, even a part of Canada's national identity (Tim Hortons), that have been sold off to make a penny.

  • Well, if it were that simple we'd be moving companies to every frikkin' place we see opportunity, wouldn't we? Companies need regulatory approval before they can merge. This is more strictly so if they are defense contractors because you don't want other countries knowing your military secrets.

    Heck, Google and DoubleClick needed approval from both US and EU Regulatory authorities before they could merge. That's because even though they are US based countries, they operate all around the world.
  • Re:Net benefit? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2008 @04:19PM (#23048762)
    Well, this is the Harper government. They would probably consider the sale of entire provinces to be a net benefit for Canada simply because it might make the US happy.
  • Re:Net benefit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @04:21PM (#23048774)
    How is the sale of a Canadian company to US interests ever a net benefit for Canada? I've lost track of the companies that used to be Canadian owned, even a part of Canada's national identity (Tim Hortons), that have been sold off to make a penny.

    Don't feel bad. We can make the same claim, like this:

    How is the sale of an American company to Chinese interests ever a net benefit for the U.S.? I've lost track of the companies that used to be U.S.-owned, even a part of America's national identity, that have been sold off to make a penny.
  • Real Reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArIck (203) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @04:21PM (#23048780)
    This was the 'real' reason for lack of sale:

    We at Canada have a policy of selling any weapons to rogue states. That is why when everyone was busy selling arms to states at war we Canada stayed at the fringes. Now, we believe the actions of the US government and its policies are detrimental to the democratic progress. We believe they could either lead to external aggression (most likely) and internal repression. Thus the Canadian government has decided not to sell the space technology to the United States.

    P.S: US please dont take this seriously, we still love you, eh.
  • by rbrander (73222) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @04:27PM (#23048798) Homepage
    Except for the one valid complaint that the government had helped this company along with a lot of support, I don't think anybody's even pretending that this is a justified intervention in the free market. (Whether Canadians have ever bought a US company that previously received lots of US government grants, contracts and other support, would be interesting; I'd be surprised if it *hadn't* happened, though).

    But alas, it was tin-eared in the extreme to announce this just as Dextre was being installed and everybody's nationalistic pride in the company was at a peak. We've been smiling with pride every time a shuttle image showed the flag and name on the CanadArm for 20 years or so; and Dextre, another order of magnitude more impressive a technology, had us all rubbing our hands with pride and glee.

    Then the owners do their best to give everybody an image of them saying "Thanks for the free help, suckers! We're selling out and off to Brazil with your cash!" This result was then predictable.

    If they'd waited a year or two, perhaps couched it in terms of allowing the company to go on to greater achievements through partnering, maybe tossed out a few promises of continued location in Canada and all Canadian jobs totally safe (promises you can always break a few years later, it's not like PR is legally binding), they could have gotten away with it.

    Now, they can't wait a few years and try again because the issue's been raised and the media will hype it up again unless they wait at least 10 years. And this was, by the way, our *Conservative*, pro-business party. Any chance of a future Liberal government allowing this one is much dimmer still.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2008 @04:53PM (#23048980)
    The issue is not with Dextre or the CanadArm. The issue is with Radarsat 2, which contains sensitive technology which is used by the Government of Canada to monitor and assert our claims of sovereignty over the Arctic.

    Claims which the Government of the U.S. doesn't recognize. The fear is that if the technology and control of the tech is sold to a U.S. company, the U.S. government will be able to control what the Canadian Government sees - allowing, for instance, U.S. warships to use the Northwest Passage without informing the Government of Canada.

    It has very little to do with nationalistic pride, and more to do with national security. Ask yourself, would the U.S. Government allow a company that developed and operates the spy-satelite network to be sold to a foreign power? It would never happen. Hell, you can't even export anything that uses encryption in the U.S. - which you can do in Canada.
  • by anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @05:00PM (#23049036) Journal
    Forget that this is precious high technology that can, and has had spin-offs in the past.
    Forget that Canada produced the world's first digital telecommunications satellite. Forget all the jobs and knowledge that will gradually melt south of the border. forget it.

    It's much more basic than that. There is a long-time border dispute with the americans, we think the waters between arctic islands are Canadian waters, the US claims they aren't. The Americans have nuclear submarines, we don't. Now with the ice melting, http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=8df15e06-e40d-42da-b42e-61c0d0713260 [canada.com]

    there is a navigable channel shaping up that could take weeks off the time to ship from asia to europe. and there's oil up there, http://cernigsnewshog.blogspot.com/2006/01/arctic-circle-canadas-not-kidding.html [blogspot.com]
    too.

    One of the main uses of RADARSAT for Canada is to replace aerial reconnaissance for Ice forecasting. they can, I imagine, spot submarines as well, since the Americans, supposedly our closest ally, refused to launch them. So they were launched on Russian vehicles.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071025164751AAOF6Ur [yahoo.com]

    http://www.studentsonice.com/blog/?p=79 [studentsonice.com]

    We like our arctic, it is ours. We'd like the tax revenue from any oil that is pumped out of there. we'd like the revenue from a major shipping lane, so declaring it international waters is a problem for us. We can't afford to build nuclear submarines...

    So it would be pretty @#%$@^%@ stupid to sell this company to a US arms manufacturer, which is, at the very least, clearly beholden to the US government for contracting.
  • Re:Net benefit? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @05:04PM (#23049066)

    One possible reason: because they paid a lot of money to US shareholders for that wasn't worth that much? I.E. Net inflow of cash exceeds the value of what was purchased.

    Now the proceeds from the sale can be used to invest in other interests.

    Or in the case of mergers: the merging was presumably done because it was in the companies' shareholders best interests.

    There are shareholders are in the US. Increased profits to shareholders is a benefit to the US-based shareholders. And to the US government who will get to collect the taxes from the eventual dividend increases and the eventual capital gain resulting from US-based shareholders selling shares (that have increased value as a result of what happened to the business after it was sold to a chinese company).

  • by anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @05:06PM (#23049078) Journal
    I call b.s. This isn't just a publicity problem, this is a real-politik problem.

    This is about arctic sovereignty and billions in future tax revenue. This isn't a political issue. No political party has ever turned down the prospect of future tax base.

    RADARSAT II, which the americans pointedly refused to launch, is what we use to patrol our artic waters. Giving the Americans, the keys, the plans, and the ability to just delay things to death is beyond stupid from a strategic perspective.

  • Ok (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Saturday April 12, 2008 @05:22PM (#23049184) Homepage Journal
    Why?

    Why does Canada need to maintain sovereignty over a private company, in an era of free trade? Why not let the owners cash their chips in?

    The US doesn't block this kind of thing on sovereignty grounds -- although to be fair it may be because the current administration doesn't understand that US sovereignty has any geographic limits...
  • Re:Ok (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Saturday April 12, 2008 @09:29PM (#23050668) Journal

    Why does Canada need to maintain sovereignty over a private company, in an era of free trade?
    The company is a croporate citizen, and the government has sovereignty over all citizens.

    Why not let the owners cash their chips in?
    Because that goes against the country's long-term interests, maybe?

    The US doesn't block this kind of thing on sovereignty grounds
    You think so? Wait until China (or, heaven forbid, France) tries to buy Lockheed or Boeing...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2008 @11:29PM (#23051430)
    Hey, fuckwit, you think occupiying Iraq is a pain in the ass?

    Just wait till you occupy a country of people WHO LOOK AND TALK EXACTLY LIKE YOU DO.

    We can blend in perfectly, and fuck you up but good. Just look at the ass-pounding you are taking from Iraqis.

The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold

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