Let's call it a draw
At the end of this Leader-Post story, deconstructing the reasons that the Harper government rejected the BHP potash takeover, is a very intriguing insight. speculative piece of fiction, according to Industry Minister Tony Clement (see update at bottom of story.)
The second key element was a leak to former Postmedia columnist Don Martin that the takeover was about to be approved with conditions. The impact of the information leaking out caused panic in a federal government already paranoid about legal breaches of confidentiality over the approval process.
And sources believe the need to disprove the Martin leak was such that it became the other big reason why the Harper government changed its position on the BHP Billiton takeover.
If I understand this properly, the story was correct, but the government, having an issued one of their now-regular "absolutely false" reactions to news leaks, felt it had to act to spite Martin and his information. Oh, and the polls helped too. Which is just a fabulous way to run a country, don't you think?
In other news, apparently the Parliamentary Press Gallery won 9-6 against the Conservatives in a recreational hockey game last night. What we haven't heard yet, but probably will, is that the game carried on into extra overtime after the press team left, Conservatives vs. Conservatives, and actually the Conservatives won.
*** Update: Erik Waddell, senior policy adviser to Industry Minister Tony Clement, has posted "absolute nonsense" on Twitter in reaction to the story of how Don Martin's leak played a part in the decision.
*** Extra update: Meanwhile, in other news of how leaks can interfere with the running of the country, here's a Globe story on why the government won't be holding its usual pre-budget consultations with Canadian citizens.
*** Update. Let's give Mr. Clement the last word, with a statement issued late on Tuesday:
Having read Murray Mandryk’s Potash fable in today’s Regina Leader-Post, I seriously question the sources talking to Mr Mandryk, because so much of his innuendo, rumour and mis-information is so far off it really does a disservice to the Canadian public. As the Minister responsible for the Investment Canada Act, I can confirm that I made my decision to reject the proposed BHP Billiton-Potash Corporation transaction was after consultation with Saskatchewan MPs and listening to the position of the government of Saskatchewan, based on the facts of the deal.
It did not in my view represent a net benefit to Canada, and as this company has assets in other parts of our nation, I do mean all of Canada. In the days leading up to my announcement there were some very speculative rumours published in newspapers across Canada. I can tell you that not only are they false, but this was a case of highly irresponsible journalism that affected stock markets around the world. In fact, I encouraged the media to wait until the process had run its course. Some did not, and clearly had the story wrong.
For the record, once the decision was made it was never changed, just as the procedure with ICA files information was shared only with those who needed to know. At no time was there an eleventh-hour change to protect political interests. Nor was a change precipitated by a “leak” because the story mentioned was filled with false facts. As many had an interest in this transaction, it is very possible that some veteran journalists, Mr Mandryk included, actually bought some of the spin as truth.